More than a third of food from fast food chains and takeaways contains small amounts of harmful chemicals
More than a third of food from fast food chains and takeaways contains small amounts of harmful chemicals that can build up in the body, a study has found.
Swabs from samples taken from fish fingers, fries, coleslaw and sausages were found to contain nanoparticles, which are found in computer chips and glass products.
They are also used in paints, car tyres and plastic PVC and tiny particles of compounds called phthalates are “confined by heat” and dissipate from food, causing it to carry these chemicals, the scientists said.
They were warning “parents of small children, and especially pregnant women, are particularly at risk”, and raised the prospect of pregnant women being exposed during late pregnancy when they are “most vulnerable to potential harm”.
Small amounts of the chemicals, known as short-chain hydrocarbons (SCHC), were found in all of the 64 products, but they peaked when consumers consumed a variety of foods, especially fried or boiled food.
A sample of Brussels sprouts which had been reheated in the microwave within 24 hours contained six times more than it did in a previous test.
Dodgy packaging from fast food restaurants and takeaways poses a public health risk, scientists at the University of North Carolina in Durham said.
Their study examined phthalates and small amounts of sulphur hexafluoride (SF-Hf), another chemical suspected of posing a risk.
However, they say the potential impact of the chemicals on the human body is less than the possible harm that chemicals found in flour and cooking oils may pose to the body.
The Environmental Working Group, a US research and advocacy organisation that campaigns for greater environmental awareness, said the findings showed fast food companies should take action to “promote food preparation techniques that reduce the potential for chemicals such as PVC to leach from the food supply”.
It added: “This is one more sign that fast food is unsafe.”
A spokesman for Burger King UK said the company “abides by all food hygiene regulations, test and follow all food hygiene regulations and comply with the ingredients list regulations” as “required by all regulatory authorities”.
He added: “We look forward to reviewing the latest study further and taking action to minimise any potential risk that is found.”
An Aldi spokeswoman said: “Our products are assembled using 100% fresh ingredients, quality manufacturing and quality control.
“We take the health and wellbeing of our customers seriously and have a dedicated team of pharmacists and pharmacists’ nurses that review and test our products.”