Boxed mac and cheese is a source of comfort food, but it’s also a source of toxic chemicals called phthalates, according to food safety advocates.

The Environmental Health Strategy Center is among the members of a coalition that had 30 cheese products tested, from sliced and shredded to 10 major brands of mac and cheese.

Executive Director Mike Belliveau says phthalates were detected in all mac ‘n cheese powders. “The phthalate levels in the mac and cheese were more than four times higher than any other cheese product.”

Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals used in packaging that can leach into food and pose health risks. Belliveau says they’ve been banned in Europe.

Belliveau urges consumers to call food companies and ask them to eliminate the chemicals from their processes.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.