Children, Parents, Health Advocates To Protest and Deliver Petition to Kraft Heinz Headquarters Demanding Elimination of Toxic Chemicals from its Products

Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging and the Environmental Health Strategy Center
News Releases

PITTSBURGH, Penn. – During back-to-school week, as parents seek healthy food to pack for kids' school lunches, moms, kids, and environmental health advocates from nonprofits across the country will stage a protest and deliver petition signatures representing over 100,000 concerned consumers to Kraft Heinz Company headquarters in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, August 28, at 11am, to urge the leading food manufacturer to protect kids' health and take public action to keep toxic chemicals called phthalates (THAL-eights) out of its food.

Activists and concerned citizens will be in front of Kraft Heinz headquarters to protest, shake boxes of the company’s iconic macaroni and cheese, and hand-deliver tens of thousands of petition signatures from concerned consumers around the world.

Since the New York Times broke the story in 2017 about lab testing that found toxic phthalates in boxed mac and cheese powders, including Kraft mac and cheese, over 100,000 people around the world have signed petitions urging the company to take public action to keep these chemicals out of its food. Yet, Kraft has failed to take public action on the issue.

“Toxic chemicals in our food supply pose a silent public health crisis. Strong science has linked exposure to phthalates during pregnancy and early childhood to infertility, ADHD, and asthma. Shockingly, the food we eat exposes more Americans to phthalates than any other pathway,” said Mike Belliveau, executive director at the Environmental Health Strategy Center, which leads the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging, a national alliance of nonprofits advocating for toxic-free food. “With great market power, Kraft Heinz and other processed food giants have great responsibility to find and replace all phthalate sources in their supply chain with safer alternatives.”

“Scientists and medical experts agree that phthalates threaten children’s health,” said Stephanie Fedro, operations manager at the Learning Disabilities Association of America and Pittsburgh-based mom of three kids. “Pregnant women, babies and toddlers are most at risk. Phthalates are neurotoxic chemicals; they impact brain development. They’ve been linked to ADHD, learning disabilities, behavioral problems and permanent IQ loss. A developing fetus or young child with the highest exposure of phthalates may grow up struggling to succeed in school, at work and in life.”

“Studies have shown that vulnerable communities are exposed to higher levels of these toxic chemicals,” said Brandon Moore, national campaigns director at the Environmental Health Strategy Center. “This is an example of environmental injustice. All parents deserve to know that the food they serve their families is safe and free of dangerous chemicals.”

Phthalates easily migrate into food, yet are unnecessarily added to plastics, rubber, inks, sealants, and other industrial materials used throughout the U.S. food system. Phthalates could contaminate food at every point in the supply chain: from materials used on the farm, in processing, in packaging, and in food preparation. (Click here to see our infographic on how phthalates get into food.) 

In fact, research shows that food is the primary route of phthalates exposure, and a 2017 U.S. government study found that more than 725,000 American women of childbearing age are exposed each day to levels of phthalates that may threaten the health of a developing baby.

Meanwhile, safer alternatives to phthalates exist and are widely available.

Yet, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is refusing to take action to protect the American public and ban phthalates from food contact materials, despite the fact that regulators in Europe, Japan, and the state of Maine have all banned or restricted phthalates in food contact materials. Because of the FDA’s inaction, we’re looking to industry giants like Kraft Heinz to listen to consumers’ concerns, demonstrate leadership for health, and take public action to keep these toxic chemicals out of food and replace them with safer alternatives.

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The ​Environmental​ Health Strategy Center is a Maine-based nonprofit organization that works for a world where all people are healthy and thriving in a safe environment. Everyone deserves access to safe food and drinking water, and toxic-free, climate-friendly products. 

The Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging​ is a national alliance of nonprofit organizations concerned about human health, food safety, and social justice who are working together to persuade major food manufacturers to identify and eliminate phthalates and other chemicals of high concern from the American food supply.