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Fast-food products contain harmful industrial chemicals ─Study

Fast Foods

*Researchers found that several fast-food items, such as burritos, chicken nuggets, and cheeseburgers, contain traces of phthalates and plastics at numerous fast-food chains can pose significant long-term health risks, including damage to the endocrine system in consumers

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Several studies have examined how the health risks associated with the nutritional makeup of fast-food items, and few others have explored other ways that fast foods can be harmful to consumers’ health.

A fresh study conducted by researchers from George Washington University, in the United States (US) discovered that many fast-food items, such as burritos, chicken nuggets, and cheeseburgers, contain traces of phthalates and plastics.

The experts opine these chemicals can pose significant long-term health risks, including damage to the endocrine system.

Lariah Edwards, one of the researchers, said: “We found phthalates and other plasticizers are widespread in prepared foods available at US fast-food chains, a finding that means many consumers are getting a side of potentially unhealthy chemicals along with their meal.

“Stronger regulations are needed to help keep these harmful chemicals out of the food supply.”

In regard to how chemicals pose a health risk to consumers for the study, the researchers tested over 60 different fast-food items and three different types of reusable gloves for potentially harmful chemicals.

They detected phthalates and plasticizers in the large majority of the items tested, agency report noted.

The study indicated that items containing meat were the most likely to have the highest levels of these kinds of chemicals, with chicken burritos and cheeseburgers topping the list.

On the other hand, cheese pizzas had the lowest levels of these chemicals out of all the foods that were tested.

Overall, 86 percent of the foods and all of the gloves tested contained a commonly used plasticizer called DEHT.

These chemicals are typically used to keep things soft; however, this becomes problematic because the chemicals can seep into the food and are then digested.

Two phthalates were found in large percentages of the food items; DnBP was detected in more than 80 percent of the fast-food products, and DEHP was found in 70 percent of the foods.

These chemicals can pose serious risks to consumers’ reproductive processes and cognitive function.

Low-income consumers may be more at risk ─Experts

As more work needs to be done to determine more of the health risks linked with these chemicals, the researchers say making homemade meals is one of the best ways to avoid ingesting phthalates and plasticizers.

However, the experts also worry about how consumers in low-income areas may struggle to get access to more natural food options.

Researcher Ami Zota stated: “Disadvantaged neighborhoods often have plenty of fast food outlets, but limited access to healthier foods like fruits and vegetables.

“Additional research needs to be done to find out whether people living in such food deserts are at higher risk of exposure to these harmful chemicals.”

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