Phthalates have many uses, but the main use is as an additive to plastics to make them more flexible. However, as the phthalates are not bound to the plastic, they are released at an accelerating rate as the plastic breaks down. We are exposed to phthalates in the environment, and it has been detected previously in people but according to a publication in the open access journal “Environmental Health Perspectives” (EHP), it had not been previously reported in foods, in the US.
But why all the fuss? Because phthalates are endocrine disrupters.
The researchers collected food samples from supermarkets in New York and analysed them using gas chromatography. They found that di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) concentrations were the highest out of the phthalates measured in all foods except beef. Pork had the highest concentration of any food group with a mean concentration of 300 ng/g.
Although the daily exposures they calculated were below that of the level set by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they recommend caution as the exposure is cumulative.