More Evidence Processed Foods Can Harm You

If you ever wondered why I recommend you severely limit your intake of processed foods from your diet, think about this one: A new study found flame retardant chemicals, called Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), in foods taken straight from supermarket shelves in Dallas. The implication is that food may be a key source of the contamination measured in people around the world.

Here's the really scary part of the story for Americans: The report revealed higher levels of flame retardants in the foods here than similar market studies in Spain and Japan.

Used widely as flame-retardant additives in electronics and in polyurethane foam used for carpet padding, mattresses, chairs, sofas and other furniture, PBDEs have been detected in humans across the globe, but scientists are not certain how they are getting there.

Researchers tested 32 food samples from three major supermarket chains in Dallas, and found PBDE contamination in all food containing animal fats. The highest levels were in fish, followed by meat and dairy products. (Because PBDEs are most soluble in fats, they tend to accumulate in animal and human tissues.)

The Spanish study reported an upper level of 340 parts per trillion (ppt), while the most contaminated sample in the Texas study was a salmon filet with a concentration of more than 3,000 ppt. Likewise, the median concentration of PBDEs in meat from Dallas supermarkets was more than twice the maximum levels in meat from both the Spanish and Japanese surveys.

EurekAlert September 1, 2004

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