Birth defects tied to chemical found in macaroni and cheese, study says

(WHDH) — A box of  macaroni and cheese could do more harm than good due to harmful chemicals found in the popular food.

A recent study by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging said the chemicals phthalates  can be found in macaroni and cheese dishes containing powdered cheese.

Small children and pregnant women can be put at risk because the chemical can affect male hormones and have been associated with genital birth defects in infant boys, according to the New York Times. The same chemical can also cause learning and behavioral problems in children.

“Although not intentionally added to food, phthalates are ‘indirect’ food additives when they escape from food contact materials,” the study said. “Phthalates tend to be found at higher levels in highly processed or fatty foods.”

Thirty cheese products were tested in the study and phthalates were found in all but one of them, but the study found more than four times the amount in the macaroni and cheese powder than in hard blocks of cheese.

Nine of the cheese products tested were produced by Kraft, according to the Times.

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