Macaroni and cheese with a side of regulation


Every day in the United States, two million boxes of macaroni and cheese are sold. As COVID-19 leaves many Americans homebound, demand for this all-American comfort food has hit record levels.

But as consumers empty grocery store aisles, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to face mounting pressure from health and consumer advocacy groups worried about the lasting effects of the macaroni craze.

In 2017, the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, an alliance of public health, environmental, and consumer advocacy groups, published a report that found high concentrations of phthalate chemicals in ten varieties of macaroni and cheese powders currently on the market.

Phthalates are a broad class of chemicals that are used to make plastic, and they have been historically detected in a wide variety of consumer products including nail polish, perfume, shampoo, detergent, and vinyl flooring. Phthalates have been called “everywhere chemicals” due to their presence in such a vast spectrum of products on the market.

Although not all phthalates pose substantial health risks, the phthalate found in macaroni and cheese, DEHP, is considered by some advocacy groups to be the “most widely banned phthalate around the world.” These bans stem from some research linking DHEP exposure to blocked production of testosterone, fertility complications, and even cancer.

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The Regulatory Review, 26 May 2021