Whether they admit it or not, macaroni and cheese is a diet staple for kids, vegetarian hipsters and hungry parents across the country.
According to an alarming new report from The New York Times, it's basically a health risk. Banned chemicals called phthalates that have been linked to testosterone disruptions and genital birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavior problems in older children can, for not very comforting reasons, be found in mac and cheese mixes made with processed, powdered cheese.
The FDA has cautioned against, but not banned, the chemicals — which make their way into food via packaging and manufacturing equipment — and a new study of 30 cheese products detected phthalates in 29 samples, with cheese powders showing the highest concentration.
While there were phthalates in other cheese products (shredded cheese, block cheese and cottage cheese, etc.) the amount found in the mac and cheese varieties was more than four times as high, including in some mixes labeled organic.
“Our belief is that it’s in every mac ‘n’ cheese product — you can’t shop your way out of the problem,” Environmental Health Strategy Center executive director Mike Bellivea told the NYT.
July 14th is National Macaroni and Cheese Day. Rather than skip it altogether, might we suggest trying your hand at making this delightfully delicious (and presumably with less phthalates) grown-up version of mac and cheese.