Researchers Discover Plastic Chemicals in US Fast Food Chains

Enjoying tucking into your McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s or Taco Bell? You might want to think again…

A new scientific study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology found some fast food items in major US chains contain an industrial chemical called phthalates. It’s used to make plastic soft and can be found in items like rubber gloves or industrial tubing.

Researchers found phthalates and another plasticizer called DEHT, which was created to replace phthalates, in several fast food items, as also reported in the Washington Post.

The study investigated gloves, hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos and cheese pizza from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Taco Bell in a series of restaurants based in Texas.

They found higher concentrations of these chemicals in plastic gloves and non-meat items.

Although they did not identify the origins of the chemicals found in the food, the researchers believe the phthalates and other plasticizers reach food through contact from gloves, packaging and processing equipment throughout the supply chain.

Some studies have associated phthalates with health problems such as issues with the endocrine system, fertility, and behavioral disorders in children, reports The Hill.

While more research must be done to understand the extent of the impact phthalates can have on human health, one study in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Pollution, warns this chemical might be contributing to thousands of deaths in the U.S.

According to the this study, adults between 55 and 64, who had higher concentrations of phthalates in their urine “were more likely to die of any cause, especially heart disease,” writes The Guardian.

While scientists have not found a direct link between phthalates and early deaths, the study’s lead author Leo Trasande, says this study concludes the chemical’s impact is greater than previously thought.

“The evidence is undeniably clear that limiting exposure to toxic phthalates can help safeguard Americans’ physical and financial wellbeing,” he says.

Although three types of phthalates are restricted or banned in toys, these chemicals are less restricted in cosmetics and food packaging.

Experts are calling for more regulations on phthalates in consumer goods and research into the chemical’s impact on the body and environment.