According to a study published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, chemicals like Phthalates were found in foods and condiments used in popular fast-food restaurants.

The study was published by researchers from George Washington University, the Southwest Research Institute, Boston University and Harvard University. They found that junk foods like tacos, burgers or burritos had chemicals that can be linked to infertility and several other health issues.

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In the study, Edwards and colleagues ordered popular meals such as hamburgers, chicken nuggets, fries, burritos with chicken, rice, beans, salsa from six of the most established fast food chains in the US- McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Taco Bell and Chipotle. They then tested the food samples for 11 plasticizing chemicals. 

It was found that foods containing meats had higher levels of chemicals. Around eighty percent of the samples contained a chemical known as Phthalates. Phthalates is basically a class of chemicals used to make plastic softer and more flexible. They are mostly found in food packaging and gloves, despite their known effects on human health.

Past studies have observed that people who ate more fast foods had higher levels of Phthalates in their urine samples. However, this is the first study to analyse and test the food itself. The chemical has been linked to reproductive problems and early death. Phthalates interfere with hormonal functions which again leads to a plethora of problems when it comes to fertility and child development. It was also observed that those with high levels of these chemicals in their urine samples were more likely to die early due to heart disease.

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As per the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there was a ban on the use of eight types of Phthalates in children’s toys and child-care objects in 2017. Yet, it was found that at least four of them were found in fast foods. Authors concluded that due to the lack of transparency around these chemicals, it becomes the responsibility of the regulators to keep chemicals like these out of food and personal care products.