Cheeseburgers Contain ‘Plastic Hardening’ Chemicals – Study

Cheeseburgers Contain ‘Plastic Hardening’ Chemicals – Study
CBC Burger Cambridge Brewing Co. / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

People who consume too much fast food like burgers and pizza have high levels of phthalates in their urine, a new study shows.


Phthalates are types of industrial chemicals commonly used in making plastics. The researchers from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., specifically found two types of phthalates—di(2-ethylhexyl) DEHP phthalate and diisononyl phthalate (DiNP).

According to lead author Ami Zota, individuals who consume an above normal amount of fast food, or food obtained from restaurants without waiters, showed an elevated level of phthalates in their urine between 24 and 40 percent relative to those who consume fast food rarely.

The study, which was published in the journal of Environmental Health Perspective, was conducted by having 8,877 participants answer a questionnaire about their diet in the past 24 hours. The participants were specifically asked about their fast food consumption in the same time frame.

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“We found statistically significant associations between the amount of fast food consumed in the prior 24 hours and the levels of two particular phthalates found in the body,” Zota was quoted as saying by the Science Daily.

The study, however, failed to establish whether fast food consumption does result in the elevated level of phthalates. But it does show that an excess amount of fast food consumption correlates to a high level of phthalates. It also doesn’t mention any fast food chain restaurants or specific brand of food involved in the study.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), phthalates are a group of chemicals often used in industrial purposes, particularly the main component responsible for the hardness of plastics. In the industry, phthalates are commonly referred to as the “plasticizers.| The CDC added that most people exposed to these chemicals got it from food that have been in contact with plastics with phthalates.

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