Dangerous plasticizers in food

Dangerous plasticizers in food

A third of the food contained plasticizers

Many packaged foods contain harmful plasticizers. The Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) has detected the plasticizer diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in samples for the program "The Big Kitchen Check" in more than a third of the foodstuffs examined. Although no limit values ​​were exceeded, even small amounts of the plasticizer are suspected of damaging fertility, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

Plasticizers are generally considered to be extremely harmful to health. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and other respiratory diseases have been linked to plasticizers in various studies. The most well-known plasticizer is bisphenol A, the use of which has meanwhile been significantly reduced and which, for example, may no longer be used in the manufacture of baby drinking bottles. According to the Federal Environment Agency, the plasticizer DEHP, which is found in foodstuffs, is used far less frequently today than in 1999. Nevertheless, DEHP can be found in numerous packaged foods. In particular, the fertility of men could suffer considerable damage. Because plasticizers are considered to be one of the main reasons for the limited fertility recently found in a study commissioned by the Federal Environment Agency in around half of men between the ages of 18 and 23.

Almost 40 percent of the food tested contains plasticizers Actually, the plasticizer “DEHP in plastics that come into contact with food has been largely banned since 2006” because the hazardous substances from the packaging can get into the food and into the human body with the food reports the "NDR". It is all the more worrying that DEHP was detected in seven of the 19 foods examined. Around 37 percent of the packaged food tested thus contained the harmful substance. The measured concentration was extremely different. For example, according to “NDR”, the Géramont soft cheese contained 80 micrograms of DEHP per kilogram, the concentration in Bertolli Pesto was already three times as high at 240 micrograms per kilogram, and Kerrygold Butter contained 520 micrograms of DEHP per kilogram. The testers demonstrated the highest load in Saint Albray cheese with 910 micrograms DEHP per kg cheese.

High exposure of the population to health-endangering plasticizers According to the expert Dr. Marike Kolossa-Gehring from the Federal Environment Agency worrying results, even if no limit values ​​were exceeded. Because according to the toxicologist, limit values ​​always assume that only a certain amount of the food is consumed, but in practice these amounts could be significantly exceeded. The plasticizers can now be found "in everyone in Germany, and some are so heavily contaminated that we have to fear developmental and health damage", quotes the "NDR", the expert from the Federal Environment Agency.

Food producers under pressure On the part of the affected food manufacturers, the proven plasticizers in their products have triggered different reactions, according to the radio broadcaster. While some have shown some concern, others have tried to do away with it. According to the "NDR", the manufacturer of Bertolli Pesto, for example, explained to examine all possibilities to identify the source of the pollution. The producer of Kerrygold Butter wrote that the current test results should be taken as an opportunity to examine the own production process again, reports the "NDR". However, the reactions were different for the cheese producers at Géramont and Saint Albray. They only announced that their cheese complied with the norms of food law.

Serious health impairments caused by plasticizers A meta study by the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Environment and Nature (BUND) also clarifies the health consequences of plasticizers. When evaluating 240 previous studies, the researchers found that exposure to plasticizers such as bisphenol A increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. According to the BUND, the extent of the damage to health was determined primarily by the time of the contamination. While in adults "stress can remain without effects, serious health consequences are possible, especially in sensitive development phases such as pregnancy or early childhood". The BUND refers to "impaired reproductive ability and disorders of brain development and the immune system". "The damage would usually only become apparent in adulthood" and would then generally not be revisable. The intake of plasticizers via food should therefore be minimized urgently, according to environmentalists. (fp)

Also read:
Plasticizers cause diabetes and obesity
BUND: Increased plasticizer load in day care centers
Environmentalists: BPA ban completely inadequate
Bisphenol A makes girls hyperactive and aggressive
Hormone-active chemicals threaten health

Photo credit: Rolf van Melis /

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