Powdered mac n’ cheese is my life. I mean, I love many other kinds of cheese and pasta combinations, especially ones made with real fromage, but come on, the boxed stuff is delicious.
When I was a kid, I adored Kraft. When I was a teenager and young adult, my friends and I used to come home late late late and put a big pot of Annie’s on the table, or more accurately eat it right at the counter. In my 20s as a freelancer, I made it for myself as a cheap lunch or snack, and even now I sometimes make it—not for my baby, but for me when I’m too freaking tired to feed myself anything else.
It’s tasty, it’s yummy, and apparently, it’s poison. A New York Times article entitled “The Chemicals in Your Mac n Cheese” talks about the, um, chemicals in your mac n cheese—and it sounds mighty disturbing.
“The chemicals, called phthalates, can disrupt male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavior problems in older children. The chemicals migrate into food from packaging and equipment used in manufacturing and may pose special risks to pregnant women and young children.
Now a new study of 30 cheese products has detected phthalates in all but one of the samples tested, with the highest concentrations found in the highly processed cheese powder in boxed mac and cheese mixes. The report, which was conducted by an independent laboratory and paid for by environmental advocacy groups, has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.”
Look, anecdotally many of us can report that we’ve been eating this stuff for years and have seen no ill effects.
But it’s scary nonetheless. Because many countries have banned the substances we’re talking about. And the USA has not. Via Forbes, I came across an older PBS article that notes: “China, which makes 85% of the world’s toys, has developed two manufacturing lines, one for the European market and the other like-minded nations that ban phthalates, and another one for the United States and dozens of mostly developing and third-world countries that don’t restrict them.”
Oh, crap. We are the worst, America. And to add insult to injury, Twitter has declared today National Mac n’ Cheese Day.
I had a ceremonial farewell bowl of Annie’s last night—unless they respond positively to many Tweet requests from anxious parents, I will probably stop eating it when I run out.
Look, we had a great, great (great!) run, dearest, dearest, boxed mac n’ cheese, and I wish I could continue on eating you in ignorant bliss. But I’ve tasted from the tree of knowledge, so in the meantime, I’m going to try one of these great recipes.