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CR calls on General Mills to reduce concerning levels of plastic chemicals in Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli and its other food products

Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli had highest levels of toxic phthalates in CR’s tests 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a letter sent today to General Mills, Consumer Reports urged the company to protect consumers from high levels of potentially hazardous plastic chemicals in its food products. CR recently tested different foods and found that Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli made by General Mills had the highest level of phthalates of any product it tested. Phthalates are a plasticizer, a chemical used to make plastics more flexible and durable, and have been linked to a long list of health concerns, even at very low levels.

“When you buy organic, the last thing you’d expect is that you would be eating plastic chemicals,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports, which launched a petition today calling on the company to take action. “Annie’s is a widely popular brand among parents hoping to feed their kids healthier meals, but its Organic Cheesy Ravioli had the most elevated level of plastic chemicals in our tests.”

CR tested 85 different foods and found that Annie’s Organic Cheesy Ravioli contained 53,579 nanograms of phthalates in a single serving, 75 percent higher than the closest canned pasta meal in its test. Other General Mills products also had concerning levels of phthalates in CR’s tests: Yoplait Original Low Fat Yogurt (French Vanilla): 10,948 nanograms; Cheerios Original: 10,980 nanograms; Green Giant Cream Style Sweet Corn (can): 7,603 nanograms; and Progresso Vegetable Classics Vegetable Soup (can) 2,888 nanograms.

“Our tests found that some food products had much lower levels of phthalates, demonstrating that it is possible to reduce their presence,” said Ronholm. “General Mills should conduct testing to identify where plastics are entering the production chain and take steps to protect the public by reducing exposure to these dangerous chemicals.”

Phthalates can get into food through packaging but also from exposure to plastic in tubing, conveyor belts, and gloves used during food processing. Phthalates can even enter directly into meat and produce via contaminated water and soil.

A growing body of research has shown that plasticizers are endocrine disruptors, which means that they can interfere with the production and regulation of estrogen and other hormones. Even minor disruptions in hormone levels can contribute to an increased risk of several health problems, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, birth defects, premature births, neurodevelopmental disorders, and infertility.

Michael McCauley, michael.mccauley@consumer.org