Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today issued the following statement in response to a study published by Julia Varshavsky at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health UC Berkeley and Ami Zota at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health scientists about the harmful effects of phthalates, chemicals found in many consumer products including food packaging.

The study, conducted from 2005 to 2014, looked at 10,253 participants' phthalate levels and compared the levels of individuals who ate out with those who ate at home.

“Families have the right to know that their food wasn’t packaged using plastic that contains harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, this study reminds us that isn’t always the case.

“Phthalates are a type of chemical used in many plastic wraps that pose a risk to public health. We’ve already banned them from children’s toys due to serious health concerns, now we need to remove them from our food packaging.

“Phthalates can pose a health risk to pregnant women and lower testosterone levels for men. In children, they have been linked to learning and behavior problems, and have contributed to birth defects in boys.

“Despite those risks, it’s nearly impossible for families to avoid some level of exposure. These chemicals can be found throughout the food supply chain, from the plastic gloves worn to handle food to the containers used for packaging.

“This is a problem for busy families who eat meals out, often at fast food restaurants. The study found that individuals who regularly eat out had 30 percent higher phthalate levels. The findings for teenagers are particularly troubling, where phthalate levels were 55 percent higher than people who ate at home.

“When Congress is back in session, I plan to introduce legislation that would remove phthalates from food packaging, phasing them out over the next five years, to help reduce our exposure to these harmful chemicals.”