Lifestyle

Annie’s to remove chemical tied to low sperm counts from mac and cheese

Annie’s “homegrown” pasta is about to become a bit better for population growth. 

Mac ‘n’ cheese brand Annie’s has announced it will begin phasing out phthalates from its products — years after multiple studies linked the chemical to lower sperm counts, an increased risk of birth defects and learning disabilities. 

“We are troubled by the recent report of phthalates found in dairy ingredients of macaroni and cheese and take this issue seriously,” a statement on Annie’s FAQ page now reads. The company, which originated in New England, has been owned by General Mills since 2014.

The decision to begin phasing out phthalates from its boxed mac ‘n’ cheese products was made on February 21, Insider reported. The chemical has long been banned from baby toys

Phthalates disrupt hormones and exposure has been linked to “diminished sperm count and deteriorated sperm quality,” researchers reported in a 2016 study

“Many studies have linked prenatal exposure to phthalates to abnormal development and function of the brain and reproductive system,” reported a separate 2017 study

published by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging. 

http://www.globefact.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/mac-and-cheese-chemical.html
A box of Annie’s Shells & Real Aged Cheddar macaroni and cheese.
Alamy Stock Photo

Annie’s is not the only brand hawking a phthalate-laden product: According to the 2017 study, the global chemical industry produced roughly 12 billion pounds of the chemical in 2014, and the hormone-disrupting chemical can be found in plastics, rubber, coatings, fragrance, printing links, sealants and many other brands of macaroni and cheese.

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

Annie’s hasn’t yet announced a date when it will begin phasing out phthalates, only assuring consumers that the brand is “continu[ing] to work with our trusted suppliers to eliminate ortho-phthalates that may be present in the packaging materials and food processing equipment that produces the cheese and cheese powder in our macaroni and cheese.”

While Annie’s does not deny their mac ‘n’ cheese contains phthalates, they note that it’s only a “trace” amount which is “below EFSA [European Food Safety Authority] standard.” 

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