Fast Food from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s Found to Contain Toxic Chemicals Linked with Infertility

Fast food’s cholesterol, calories, and carbs aren’t the only things that we need to worry about because they also contain toxic chemicals according to a new study published in the Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology Journal. 

The team of researchers from George Washington University ordered several items from the menu of popular fast food chains, including Burger King, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Domino’s, and Chipotle. 

Their analysis found some disturbing information: they discovered that 80 percent of the samples contained phthalates that are used in the production of plastic.

Phthalates Found in 80 Percent of Food Samples from Popular Fast Food Chains

Phthalates or plasticizers are present in hundreds of products today ranging from plastic packaging and shampoos and soaps to vinyl flooring. 

Unfortunately, they’re bad for our health and have been associated with serious problems, including liver damage, cancer, asthma, thyroid problems, learning issues, reduction in testicle size, behavioral problems, and attention deficit in 

We’re exposed to phthalates on a daily basis by consuming foods and drinks that were in contact with products that had phthalates and by breathing them, as explained by the CDC. 

Exposure is a major risk for young children as they tend to touch everything around them and often put things in their mouths. 

The researchers chose several items from these chains’ menus, including fries, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos, and cheese pizza on the basis of market share and the best-selling options.

The food with meat contained more phthalates whereas the French fries and cheese pizza had the lowest level. 

Unfortunately, of all the tested food products, 81 percent had a phthalate known as DnBP that has been associated with a higher risk of asthma, 70 percent had DEHP that has been linked to lower fertility and other reproductive problems, and 86 percent of an alternative plasticizer known as DEHT.

The effects of alternative plasticizers on our health remain unknown, according to the researchers. 

The McNuggets, the milkshakes, and the burgers may have come into contact with phthalates and alternative plasticizers at any point in the food supply chain such as during the processing and packaging equipment and through the gloves that the employees wear.

Ami Zota, a co-author of the study and professor of environmental health at GWU notes that this study raises the concerns that low-income Americans and people of color are disproportionately exposed to phthalates.

The neighborhoods with disadvantages often have a lot of fast-food shops whereas the healthier food option places are less present, according to Zota.

So, more research needs to be conducted to discover if people living in these areas have a higher risk of being exposed to these harmful chemicals. 

In a CDC report from 2019, it was actually concluded that non-Latino blacks had higher levels of exposure to phthalates and alternatives to phthalates than white people. 

It also found that adult women across the board registered a higher level of plasticizers present in shampoos, soaps, cosmetics, and other hygiene products than men did. 

Is the Presence of Phthalates Controlled?

There’s no limit to phthalates in food set by the FDA; however, the levels found in the 64 fast foods bought from the franchises around San Antonio in Texas were below the acceptable threshold by the EPA.

The FDA stated that they will review the findings from this study and take into account their discoveries. The agency has high standards for safety and when new science becomes available, they reevaluate these assessments.