In a post published on June 17, 2014 by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Staff Blog, Maricel Maffini, senior scientists at the NRDC, reports that 269 substances authorized for use in food in the U.S. may harm the thyroid system. The thyroid system is responsible for brain development, energy metabolism and cell development and differentiation. Children whose mothers had low thyroid hormone levels during pregnancy were found to have slower cognitive responses and impaired mental and motor development. Maffini reports that perchlorate, a known thyroid toxin, was authorized in 2005 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an antistatic agent in food containers. According to the FDA’s database, another 23 chemicals authorized as food additives have adverse effects in the thyroid gland. Maffini states in the article that there is a lack of adequate toxicological data for around 80% of authorized food ingredients. Thus, she argues, even more food ingredients may be thyroid toxins. Using Tox21, a screening program based on robotics technology, an additional 259 chemicals were identified to be active in the thyroid receptor assays. 41% of these are authorized for use in food contact materials (FCMs). In the blog, Maffini further points out that combined exposures to multiple chemicals affecting the thyroid may have a significant effect even if individual exposures would not cause harm.
Maricel Maffini (June 17, 2014). “Thyroid and kids’ brains: Using modern tools to screen food chemicals.”