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Chemicals found in food linked to immune system damage

According to the new study, two Chemicals that are commonly found in processed foods may harm the immune system. The study, published March 24 in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health,

The study authors from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a health-focused nonprofit said that the Chemicals are the preservative tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ), found in Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its, and more than 1,000 other foods; and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals that can leach into food from packaging.

Olga Naidenko, EWG vice president for science investigations, said that pandemic has focused public and scientific attention on environmental factors that can impact the immune system. Before the pandemic, chemicals that may harm the immune system’s defense against infection or cancer did not receive sufficient attention from public health agencies. To protect public health, this must change.

They also found that these chemicals show harmful effects on the immune system in studies conducted in animals and in lab dishes. Previous studies have indicated that TBHQ could diminish the efficacy of flu vaccines, and may also promote food allergies.According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this could help explain why food allergy prevalence has increased by about 50% between 1997 and 2011.

The PFAS were identified in  4,700 foods causing long-term health effects. In 2019, the EPA announced a research initiative to better understand PFAS following studies that linked them to cancer, thyroid disease, immune suppression, decreased fertility, and low birth weight.

Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG said that the food manufacturers have no plans to change their formulas. The  FDA allows the food and Chemical industry to determine which ingredients are safe for consumption. The new research shows how important it is that the FDA take a second look at these ingredients and test all food Chemicals for safety.

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