Fast Foods with Highest Phthalates Levels in US – New Report

By | January 18, 2024
Fast Foods with Highest Phthalates Levels
The Watchdog Consumer Reports showed Wendy’s chicken nuggets have the highest Phthalates levels than other foods tested. Image source: Wendy’s.

A new report by the Watchdog Consumer Reports has shown the fast foods and the restaurants with the highest levels of phthalates in the U.S.  

What are Phthalates?

Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics. They are often called plasticizers and they make plastics more durable.

Some phthalates are used as solvent in dissolving other materials used in making plastics.

Apart from plastics, phthalates are also used in making hundreds of products, including vinyl flooring, personal-care products (shampoos, soaps, and hair sprays), and lubricating oils.

When ingested, phthalates are not digested or broken down in the body. They remain in the body and are therefore called ‘forever chemical’.

They are toxic and dangerous to the body and have been linked to cancer, autism, and fertility issues.

The Watchdog Consumer Reports

The Watchdog Consumer Reports tested 18 products from nine of the most popular fast foods chains in the U.S. including McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Burger King, Little Caesars, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s and discovered all the products contained phthalates, on average about 12,000 nanograms (ng) per serving.

The report showed Wendy’s chicken nuggets (containing 33,980 nanograms of phthalates per serving) to have the highest level of phthalates than all foods tested from other restaurants.

The second was Moe’s Southwest Grill’s chicken burrito (containing 24,330ng of phthalates per serving) while Chipotle’s chicken burrito (containing 20,579ng of phthalates per serving) comes third.

The fourth fast food with the highest phthalates levels was Burger King Whopper with cheese (containing 20,167ng of phthalates per serving) while the fifth was also Burger King’s chicken nuggets (containing 19,782ng of phthalates per serving).

Others are:

  • 6th position: Taco Bell chicken burrito (containing 4,720ng of phthalates per serving)
  • 7th position: Domino’s Hand tossed cheese pizza (containing  4,356ng of phthalates per serving)
  • 8th position: Wendy’s Dave’s Single hamburger patty (containing 3,629ng of phthalates per serving)
  • 9th position: Burger King Whopper hamburger patty (containing 2,870ng of phthalates per serving)
  • 10th position: Pizza Hut original cheese pan pizza (containing 2,718ng of phthalates per serving).

How Foods get contaminated with Phthalates

Phthalates are used in the manufacture of plastics, including food containers, bags, and disposable cutlery, to make them durable. These items are heavily used in fast food restaurants to package and eat foods.  

However, when the items are exposed to heat, the phthalates shed off and leach into the food they are in contact with.

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