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Processed Foods Linked to Harmful Chemicals

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There is now another compelling reason to avoid some processed foods, with the discovery of a link between an unhealthy diet and exposure to potentially harmful phthalates used in plastic food wrappings.

Peter Bai, a University of Adelaide PhD student who was lead author of the research published in PLOS ONE, says that although people are exposed to phthalates ubiquitously, international studies have concluded that diet is the major contributor to phthalate exposure.

“Phthalates are widely used in a variety of industrial and consumer products to increase the transparency, flexibility and durability of plastic,” Bai says. “They are also used in personal care products, medical devices, medications and dietary supplements.”

The research was the first population study to investigate the association between socio-demographic status, lifestyle factors, dietary patterns and exposure of phthalates in Australian men. “Phthalates were detected in 99.6% of the study participants, demonstrating that there is high exposure to the chemicals in urban South Australia, and this is probably representative of all urban Australian areas,” Bai says.

“We didn’t find a difference in the levels of phthalates detected according to socio-demographic status. However, participants who ate less fresh fruit and vegetables and more processed and packaged foods, and drank...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.