Researchers from George Washington University purchased 64 fast food items in San Antonio, Texas from national chains reports the Post. Their study, published Tuesday, identified chemicals in a majority of the samples they collected.
Phthalates have been linked to health problems in some studies, such as endocrine system issues, fertility issues, and a potential increase for learning, attention, and behavioral disorders in children.
Phthalates are used to make plastics soft and, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), people can be exposed to them through food and drinks, breathing particles or when children crawl around in dust or dirt and put their hands in the mouths.
These chemicals, according to the CDC, have affected some animals' reproductive systems, however, human health effects from exposures to a low amount of phthalates is not as clear.
According to the Post, the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates food safety, has no legal parameters for phthalate concentrations in food. However, the Post notes that the FDA put out a statement that it will be reviewing the George Washington study as part of a body of scientific evidence.
“Although the FDA has high safety standards, as new scientific information becomes available, we reevaluate our safety assessments,” said an FDA spokesperson to the Washington Post.
McDonald's told The Hill that since 2015 it “has prohibited its suppliers from using phthalates in guest packaging and gloves used in our restaurants. As scientific understanding of the ways phthalates are unintentionally introduced into the food system grows, we’ll continue to evaluate and innovate our processes.”
The Hill also reached out for comment from the other restaurants in the study, which also included Burger King, Domino's and Taco Bell.
Updated at 6:48 p.m.