In a scientific peer-reviewed study, US scientists report levels of 9 different phthalates in a variety of different retail food samples (Schecter et al. 2013). Published on March 6, 2013, the research appeared in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives. One of the co-authors is NIEHS director Dr. Linda Birnbaum. The researchers are the first to report levels of phthalates in several different food types in the US. The most abundant phthalate in this study was diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP, CAS 117-81-7) that was detected in over 70% of the sampled foods.

All estimated intake levels for individual phthalates were below the respective current Reference Doses set by the US authorities. Nevertheless, the authors are concerned about health effects by cumulative exposures. While the presence of phthalates in foods was not linked to their source, the scientists point to food contact materials as a likely origin for phthalate contaminants in foods. The report also includes a list of each food sample’s packaging material but does not distinguish between different material types.


Schecter, A., et al. (2013). “Phthalate Concentrations and Dietary Exposure from Food Purchased in New York State.” Environmental Health Perspectives. (published online March 6, 2013).

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