Did you know that your mac and cheese may contain harmful chemicals? It sounds shocking, but it’s true! Read on to learn more about the toxins lurking in this popular product and discover some healthier alternatives.
Your Mac & Cheese May Contain Dangerous Ingredients
When I read this article in the New York Times I knew I had to tell you about it. After all, it’s pretty shocking. After all, mac and cheese is a comfort food staple, beloved by both kids and kids at heart. It’s not supposed to be dangerous! Yet, according to independent lab tests, it just might be.
Let’s look at what makes this popular food potentially dangerous to your family. Then, we’ll explore some super simple ways to give your kids the comfort food they crave without all the dangerous chemicals.
Harmful Chemicals in Your Mac and Cheese
We already know that most of those little boxes of mac and cheese offer no nutrition and have no real ingredients. The cheese is not “real cheese.” Need proof? Just look at the neon yellow -orange color! It is an artificial dye that has been already linked to several behavioral issues in children.
But there is another problem: Your mac and cheese may contain plastic!
Have you heard of phthalates? They can disrupt male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavior problems in older children.
But they are not deliberately added to food. They are industrial chemicals used to soften plastics and are used as solvents, in adhesives and in ink on packaging.
Phthalates were banned from children’s teething rings and other rubber toys years ago. However, according to a recent study, they’re still showing up in one of your child’s favorite foods- macaroni and cheese mixes made with powdered cheese.
Study finds phthalates in 29 out of 30 tested cheese products
A study of 30 cheese products detected phthalates in all but one of the samples tested. The highest concentrations of all appeared in processed cheese powder found in popular mac and cheese mixes.
The study tested 10 different varieties, including some that were labeled organic, and found high levels of phthalates in all of them. They looked for the presence of 13 different phthalates and detected all but two, with some food items containing up to six different phthalates in a single product.
A relatively large body of research suggest links between early childhood exposure to these phthalates and a myriad of health problems. Examples include higher incidence of allergies & ashtma, neurological issues, and behavioral issues. Phthalates can even affect your child’s physical growth & development, according to Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana. As an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle who studies phthalates, she would know!
Her main recommendation? If you want to avoid phthalates, minimize the amount of processed food you eat. “Avoid anything you find in a box that could sit around for many years,” said Dr. Sathyanarayana. “There are so many steps to get to that boxed product, and every step along the way, there’s usually plastic involved.”
Even without phthalates, powdered cheese is still bad for you!
Right after the study came out, rebuttals started going up about how those who found it alarming were, well, alarmists. One article basically told everyone to chill out because the amount of harmful chemicals in your mac and cheese probably isn’t enough to cause any real damage. Probably. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to risk my children’s safety on a “probably.”
Let’s pretend for a moment that you ARE comfortable with “probably,” though, and remove the phthalates from the equation. That powdered mac and cheese is still a horrible thing to feed your kids. To find out why, let’s look at the ingredient list for the cheese sauce mix:
At first glance, none of them look dangerous. This particular brand proudly claims that they’ve removed artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives from their cheese mix. Good for them, right?
So, what’s sodium triphosphate doing in there? The inorganic compound, which also goes by sodium tripolyphosphate and tripolyphosphate, is a created in a lab, not in nature. While the FDA regards it as “generally safe in foods,” it can be toxic in large amounts. Oh, and it’s also found in laundry and dish-washing detergents.
Even if we pretend that chemicals found in household cleaners belong in food, there’s still the other glaring issue with powdered cheese mix. It’s processed junk. Plain and simple. There’s just no reality where a powdered version of a food is better than the real thing.
What you can do to avoid dangerous chemicals.
You want your kids to eat healthy and eat lots of fruits and veggies. However, kids also like pasta. Especially mac and cheese. At home, we eat pasta once a week, and I try different sauces. My son’s favorite is the “cheese” sauce. But I make it from scratch, with “real” ingredients.
It is very easy and tastes so much better. You can choose your favorite pasta and add some good quality ingredients. Check out my Healthy Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe to learn how to make it.
You can toss in some extra goodness by including vegetables in the sauces or as toppings. One of my son’s favorite homemade mac and cheese meals is Queen Elsa Snowy Mac and Cheese. It is extremely easy to prepare, and so much fun for kids to eat.
Get even more creative and switch the pasta to quinoa. The combination of quinoa and cheese is absolutely delicious. It is also a super nutritious meal! Check out my Quinoa Mac And Cheese With Broccoli recipe. My kids love it!
These recipes will help you avoid having to worry that your mac and cheese may contain harmful chemicals. You’ll also want to stay away from plastic as much as possible. Never heat food in plastic containers in the microwave, as the chemicals can transfer into your meals. Instead, switch to glass containers that are safer for you and your family.
Now you know why your mac and cheese may contain harmful chemicals. Always stay informed and away from the dangers of eating processed foods. Homemade food is always the best kind.
If you are interested in reading more about my blog, please take a look at my latest articles. I am a mom blogger who loves to share creative and healthy fun food ideas. I am not a chef or have many years of experience cooking, so most of my recipes are very easy to prepare. Simple, nutritious, and homemade food made from scratch.