Ask Dr. Nandi: Dining out linked to high levels of toxic chemical exposure

Posted at 5:51 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-01 11:01:13-04

A new study is shedding light on a group of chemicals that are getting into many of the foods we eat at restaurants and fast food joints.

They’re called phthalates. And as it turns out, they might not be so good for our health. 

If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of your day on the go. Nearly two-thirds of Americans now eat at least one meal per day outside of the home.

But we may want to spend more time at the grocery store, because this study found that the people who went out to eat the most had much higher levels of phthalates than the folks who ate at home.

These toxic chemicals are known to cause hormone disruptions in humans and are linked to other serious health issues. Pregnant women, in particular, should steer clear. 

These chemicals are by-products of the plastics that restaurants use to handle, store and serve food.

Think the gloves the workers use to handle and serve food, the wrapper that your hamburger or chicken sandwich comes in, the lid that holds in your hot morning coffee - these types of things.

When hot food or drink comes into contact with these plastics, some of the chemicals are released into the food and wind up inside our bodies. 

As you might guess, phthalates are most common in fast food restaurants and places that use lots of plastics. Hamburgers and other sandwiches that come wrapped in plastic are the biggest culprits.

In fact, researchers found that sandwiches from fast food joints, restaurants or cafeterias were associated with 30 percent higher phthalate levels than grocery food!

So if you needed another reason to avoid your next happy meal, there you go.

Phthalates most certainly DO NOT make food taste good! If they have any taste at all, it’s probably like plastic.

These chemicals are probably making your food or drink taste worse, and they’re also making you sick.

So cook your meals when you can — that’s the best way to make sure you’re not getting chemical byproducts in your diet.