Experts always advise against binging on fast foods; and now a new study has come up with some alarming findings to show why they can be really harmful.
Published in the weekly Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, the study found ‘phthalates’, a substance that keeps plastic soft, in foods by popular restaurant chains like McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Taco Bell.
Phthalates are mainly used as plasticizers added to plastics to increase flexibility, durability and longevity. They are used in many products including vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, soaps, hair sprays, laundry detergent, etc.
Researchers from George Washington University, Southwest Research Institute (San Antonio, Texas), Boston University and Harvard University examined 64 samples of hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos and cheese pizza taken from these outlets. More than 80 per cent of the food was found to contain a phthalate called DnBP and 70 per cent contained the phthalate DEHT, according to a Hindustan Times report. DEHT is a plasticizer introduced to replace more toxic chemicals in both, the gloves used by the staff and the food. It is used in bottle caps, conveyor belts, flooring materials and waterproof clothing.
Researchers also studied three pair of gloves used in a neighbourhood near their lab in Texas.
In the study, researchers mentioned how substantial evidence linked “phthalate exposures to increased risks for children’s learning, attention, and behavioral problems.” It can also affect pregnant women and people of colour.
Researchers, however, say that the study is limited, acknowledging that the food items only came from one city.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on the other hand, has said it will review the study.