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Harmful chemicals found in San Antonio area fast food chain meals

A McDonald's restaurant in Laredo, Texas. (Photo: McDonald's)

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — A significant amount of harmful plastics were found in fast food meals at six national chain locations in the San Antonio area.

The Washington Post reports a study done by George Washington University found phthalates — a chemical used to make plastics soft — in the majority of food samples studied in the San Antonio area.  The paper said the study was funded by foundations that promote liberal or left-leaning policies.  Phthalates are linked to health conditions like disruption to the endocrine system; fertility and reproductive issues; and increased learning, attention, and behavioral disorders in children.

The researchers purchased 64 fast food items from national burger chains McDonald’s and Burger King, national pizza chains Pizza Hut and Domino’s, and national “Tex-Mex” chains Taco Bell and Chipotle around San Antonio.

All of the foods studied had some amount of phthalates in them.  The researchers found one phthalate called DnBP in more than 80 percent of the food, which has been connected to an increased risk for asthma.  They also found DEHP — which can cause reproductive issues — in 70 percent of the sampled food.

Foods containing meats had the highest levels of phthalates — chicken burritos and cheeseburgers had the most DEHT, which was also found in the gloves used at the same restaurants.  Cheese pizzas and fries had the lowest amounts of phthalate chemicals in them.

The newspaper said there are no legal thresholds limiting the amount of phthalates in food, though the amounts found in the foods were not high enough to raise alarms with federal regulators.

The FDA will consider the George Washington University study as part of its research on the matter.  Phthalates are banned in a variety of products like toys, but are used in things like rubber gloves, industrial tubing, and food conveyer belts.

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