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In Defense Of Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese

A recent New York Times article in which the author warned that Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese was loaded with dangerous phthalate compounds went viral on the Internet in no time flat. But, now, it seems the people who commissioned the story behind the report indulged in ‘bad science’ to prove a spiteful point…

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The story, about phthalates – chemicals usually found in food packaging – spread alarm among ‘pure food’ types across the western world. The story itself was based on a study  which claimed that Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese contains more phthalates than regular Cheese or other Dairy products and could cause health issues such as reduced testosterone production  and disruption of other hormonal systems.

Bad Science strikes again…

But it turns out that the study was based on some really bad science and really proves nothing at all.

The Cheese Product in Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese is powdered. Regular Cheese and Dairy products are anywhere from 20 to 70 per cent or more water. Did the lab where the product samples were tested dilute the Kraft Powder with water before testing? No mention of that in the study. So, the comparison of Kraft Cheese Powder and real Cheese is way, way off. The water content issue alone makes it look like Kraft’s powdered Cheese is way higher than regular Cheese in phthalates. And that’s about what the ‘study’ alleged.

What about the study’s sponsors?

There’s a juicy little mystery, there, too. The study was commissioned and paid for by the Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging, which set up a special website, gunning for Kraft: . However, the mysterious Coalition seems to have no address or website of its own. It does lean heavily on the ‘patronage’ of a dozen legitimate ‘healthy eating / healthy foods’ organizations, which apparently make up the coalition, though that’s not clear.

About that Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese…

It’s a good thing we all dilute that Powdered Cheese product when preparing Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese. And I for one am relieved that I gave up the Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese Every Day habit when I graduated from University. It can’t be a good life-long practice, phthalates or none. Nevertheless, I condemn the demonization of Kraft by anti-phthalates crusaders. There are other products out there that have powdered Cheese-like ingredients. The Coalition ought to hammer them, to. The Powdered Grated Parmesan/Romano industry alone is just as guilty as Kraft on the phthalates issue.

The Coalition for Safer Food Processing and Packaging looks to me like a put-up job designed to target one company for one product. And the group will have to become more substantial – i.e.- get an office and a board of directors and administrative staff – before I or any other thinking individual take it seriously. In the age of Trump and ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’, it’s still not good enough just to say something is bad. Saying a thing is so doesn’t make it so!

~ Maggie J.