Ny times the dubious science of online dating barling pipes dating
But in this case, the story was reported was perhaps even more interesting (at least to UYBFS contributors!
), because it tells us a lot about how scientific information is communicated in our modern media landscape.
In the weeks that followed, the story spread across the internet and was reported by numerous news outlets and blogs.
That such a story would be so widely reported is not surprising – mac & cheese is a very common food for kids these days (as well as poor college students) and no one wants to hear they are poisoning their children.
This is an important question, because it can change the way we think about the data.
It’s not that it is common for scientists to lie, and I am certainly not suggesting that the authors of this study have done anything other than faithfully report the data they generated.
If this group is so concerned about phthalates affecting human health, why wouldn’t they tell us which product was phthalate-free??? There is a process for publishing work like this – the peer review process – which assures that experts in the field have reviewed the data and the conclusions and that the methods and results were transparent.
If you are trying to decide whether to reach for that box of Kraft tonight, this should be your concern – not low levels of phthalates.
They state that phthalates “threaten children’s health” and talk about birth defects and cancer without mentioning that the relationship of phthalates to these effects is still a subject of debate in the field.
So the good folks at CSFPP took it upon themselves to test for phthalates in 10 different brands of mac and cheese (plus 20 other cheese products). This really shouldn’t be surprising (phthalates are in food), but it is still useful data, assuming the data was generated properly (they don’t say how these tests were run, which is a significant omission in a scientific report).
(An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that interferes with normal sex hormone signaling, and in the case of phthalates, they can alter sexual development and also cause changes in neurological development in rats.) Do they have the same effects in humans? Some studies say that they do, others show no evidence of it.
The uncertainty comes from the fact that humans are less sensitive to the endocrine effects of phthalates and the fact that while most people are exposed to phthalates, they aren’t exposed to very much.
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They compared mac and cheese to processed cheese slices and “natural” cheese, which isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, since thse products are produced in very different ways, and they downplay the fact that phthalates were found in nearly – including the natural cheese.