Even though over 37% of American adults eat fast food every single day, they might unintentionally be eating microplastics inside of their meal as well.
A recent study by the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology proves that there are in fact phthalates, a type of industrial chemical, inside some fast food items.
In order to conduct this study, hamburgers, fries, chicken burritos, pizza, and chicken nugget samples were collected as well as gloves that were normally used to prepare the food. Next, the researchers examined all of the collected items using a method called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. According to element.com this method analyzes the samples and checks them for different types of substances/chemicals.
Once the results came in, the research team found that there was dioctyl terephthalate (DEHT,) a “general plasticizer,” in some of the foods, as well as in the gloves. They also found dibutyl phthalate (DnBP) which is also a plasticizer, and bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP,) a substance that is added to plastics to make them flexible, inside the foods as well. Proposition 65 states that DEHP can also possibly “cause cancer, reproductive harm, and birth defects.”
After a quick analysis, the researchers noticed that there were higher amounts of DEHT in the burritos than the hamburgers and none at all in the fries. However, the food that had the lowest amount of chemicals in it overall was the cheese pizza.
Now, you may be wondering, what is causing the amount of plastic inside of all the foods? The team believes that it may be from cross contamination between the gloves and food which is a problem that may be harder to solve than people think.
The fast food companies can't just stop using plastic gloves, that would be unsanitary. They would have to find a glove brand that doesn't use phthalates but is also able to mass produce and ship gloves to multiple locations around the world.
As you can see, considering most of these fast food chains are huge companies that don’t specialize in physical health, they won’t be very quick to make this change unless anyone decides to take legal action or a large number of people stop buying their products.