Fast Foods Contain Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals
Fast food consumption is associated with biomarkers of ortho-phthalates exposures. However, the chemical content of fast food is unknown; certain ortho-phthalates (i.e., di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP)) have been phased out and replaced with other plasticizers (e.g., dioctyl terephthalate (DEHT)).

Researchers conducted a preliminary study to examine ortho-phthalate and replacement plasticizer concentrations in foods and food handling gloves from U.S. fast food restaurants.

They obtained hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets, chicken burritos, cheese pizza (n?=?64 food samples) and gloves (n?=?3) from restaurants and analyzed them for 11 chemicals using gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

-- They found DEHT at the highest concentrations in both foods and gloves.

-- They detected DnBP and DEHP in 81% and 70% of food samples, respectively.

-- Median DEHT concentrations were significantly higher in burritos than hamburgers; DEHT was not detected in fries.

-- Cheese pizza had the lowest levels of most chemicals.

To knowledge, these are the first measurements of DEHT in food. Our preliminary findings suggest that ortho-phthalates remain ubiquitous and replacement plasticizers may be abundant in fast food meals.

A selection of popular fast food items sampled in this study contain detectable levels of replacement plasticizers and concerning ortho-phthalates. In addition, food handling gloves contain replacement plasticizers, which may be a source of food contamination. These results, if confirmed, may inform individual and regulatory exposure reduction strategies.