Senator Chuck Schumer has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to investigate the health effects of chemicals used in fast food packaging.
Schumer called for the FDA to probe into the use of phthalates, which is present in burger wrappers, soda cups and takeaway cartons at fast food chains, New York Daily News reports. He said, “To think that we have all this data on phthalate chemicals from doctors, scientists, health experts and other industries just sitting around, frozen like a beef patty and begging for the FDA to take it to the next appropriate level of scrutiny is worrisome for the consumer.”
Phthalates have been banned in some products, such as kids’ toys and baby bottles, teething rings and pacifiers, because of studies showing that they have toxic content. These chemicals are used to make plastics more flexible, transparent and more difficult to break.
The chemicals have been associated with premature births, medical conditions in children such as lower thyroid function, and insulin resistance in adults. Young infants are most vulnerable to the effects of phthalates.
A study from George Washington University found that people who eat a lot of fast food have more phthalates present in their bodies compared to those who rarely eat such food. Fatty foods such as milk, butter and meats are said to be a primary source of phthalates in the human body, according to various studies. Even small consumptions of fast food can cause an increased presence of these chemicals.
Schumer said, “Consumers are not giving these everyday packaging products a second thought. They assume they are safe — and they should be, especially when their reach extends to millions upon millions of Americans.” He said of the FDA, “The agency must now take a closer look at these products for the sake of consumers and their everyday health.”