What fast foods and junk foods contain toxic chemicals?

Are there toxins in the fast food we like to eat? Experts say it’s important to read nutrition labels and understand the ingredients listed. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Fast food and fast food are delicious, but it’s no surprise that these meals and snacks aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about foods that should be part of your next healthy meal. Link reports of toxins in foods we love to eat on the go, and the decision becomes more complicated.

But are foods like chicken nuggets, candy, and cheese pizza simply not the most nutrient-dense options, or do they pose a risk to human health when eaten?

Toxins in our treatments?

Last month, a lawsuit in California claimed that Skittles fruit-flavored candy was “unfit for human consumption” due to titanium dioxide — a chemical used to help the candy lock and maintain its color. DJ Mazzoni, a registered dietitian and medical reviewer in New York at Illuminate Labs, says the lawsuit isn’t surprising.

When looking at ingredient labels, Mazzoni says, consumers in the United States should watch out for ingredients and additives that are banned in other countries, specifically recalling titanium dioxide. “It has been banned as a food additive in the European Union, which has much better consumer protection than the United States,” he says. “This ingredient may be toxic to humans and does not provide any nutritional benefit, so I recommend avoiding all processed foods that contain titanium dioxide.”


Of course, titanium dioxide isn’t the only harmful additive that fast foods may contain. This lawsuit is not the first time that food has been found in the United States to potentially pose a risk to human health. Documentaries like super size me, For example, consumers have been reevaluating their love for McDonald’s chicken nuggets, along with the entire fast food industry, since 2004.

Phthalates problem

In 2021, researchers from George Washington University, including environmental health scientist Laria Edwards, conducted a study on potentially harmful industrial chemicals that were discovered in fast foods in the United States. whats the result? The study found that popular fast food varieties of the beloved chains contain phthalates, a group of chemicals used to make plastic soft, which are known to disrupt the endocrine system.

“Phthalate is a class of chemicals used extensively in plastics, such as food packaging and food processing equipment,” Edwards tells Yahoo Live. Alternative plasticizers, also known as “non-phthalate plasticizers,” are chemicals used instead of Phthalates, as the use of some phthalates has been banned.”

“The phthalates we’ve discovered are of concern because some – such as DEHP and DnBP – have been consistently associated with reproductive, developmental and endocrine health problems in both animal and human studies,” she adds.

According to Edwards, unlike phthalates, the alternative plasticizers studied – DEHT, DEHA and DINCH – are less well understood. Because the available scientific studies provide limited information regarding toxicity and human health effects, the increased use of these chemicals and their effects on human health are not well understood. However, she believes the potential long-term effects are very worrying.

“Diet is the primary way people are exposed to phthalates,” Edwards says. “And some racial and ethnic groups in the United States, such as non-Hispanic blacks, are more likely to eat fast foods than others due to many factors, such as decades of housing segregation.”

“This could lead to inequality of exposure, so if there are other chemicals associated with fast food consumption, there is a possibility that certain ethnic groups will be highly exposed to these as well,” she continued.

Lack of knowledge of the foods we consume

How much does the average consumer really know about what they eat from day to day? Anthony Zervas lives in Orlando, Florida, and says that sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between what’s not good for you and what’s really bad for your overall health.

“Every year, there’s a new study on some of the products potentially linked to cancer or some other disease,” he says. “The following year, it changes. We are in the age of information and misinformation. Big companies push their way past regulations and sometimes put in place regulations that support their own agenda. It’s hard to know what’s real, what’s real, and what actually has an impact on you from a health perspective.”

Andrew Livesay is the voice behind Ouch My Body, a Chicago-based physical and mental health blog that aims to inform the public about the health improvements they can make in their lives, specifically by providing advice on healthy food choices. Livesay says that many popular fast foods contain harmful chemicals and dyes that can be dangerous.

“Some of these chemicals we love include artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners,” he says. “These chemicals can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, birth defects, and neurological damage.”

What about sugars and sweeteners?

Dr. David Culpeper, clinical director of LifeMD in Kentucky, has been practicing general internal medicine for more than 30 years. Culpepper agrees that sugars are a real problem with most fast foods.

“This includes sucrose, fructose, and high-fructose corn syrup,” Culpeper says. “These additives are especially dangerous because not everyone realizes that the names correspond to simple sugars. Too much simple sugar, unlike complex carbohydrates like whole grains, is linked to a number of diseases, including obesity, diabetes and an increased risk of cancer.”


Nahid Ali, a physician in Miami, Florida and a contributor to USA RX, warns that in addition to additives in food, packaging can be part of the problem. “Many processed and packaged foods contain dangerous chemicals and dyes,” says Ali, for example, candy wrappers, beverage bottles, and even canned ravioli can contain bisphenol A (BPA), a dangerous plastic toxin. It affects hormone receptors, which can cause brain and reproductive problems.”

With so many different additives and chemicals in today’s processed foods, it’s understandable that consumers may feel like avoiding most of them at all costs. Maura Carruth, who lives in Lincoln Park, NJ, says she avoids most processed foods. “I really prioritize what I put into my body,” she shares. “Sometimes when I go out to eat or spend time with family and friends, I feel relaxed, but every day at home, I avoid everything. I think it makes a huge difference in the long-term – and the short-term – health.”

Can you offset the effects of fast food?

In the times when junk food and junk food is hard to avoid, can anything be done to lessen the impact of a day of junk food and junk food?

“Eating foods rich in antioxidants can help mitigate some of the harmful effects of inflammatory processed foods,” Mazzoni says. “Eating a salad after eating a fast food pizza is a lot healthier than eating pizza alone.” Mazzoni adds that what we drink can also be beneficial, “Drinking enough water is especially important when eating processed foods because these foods tend to be high in sodium.”

According to Edwards, another great way to reduce your risk is to avoid choosing junk food and junk food that contains meat. “In general, eating fewer junk food is a good way to reduce exposure,” she says. “However, this is not a viable option for everyone, as fast food is a cheap and convenient way to get food on the table.”

She continues, “For people who want to reduce their exposure to phthalates and alternative plastics in fast food, based on our findings – choosing meatless meals is a good way to reduce exposure to these chemicals.”

Livesay adds that no matter what you eat, it’s important to ensure your body’s nutritional needs are met.

“If you have to eat junk food, I recommend getting all the important vitamins your body needs via over-the-counter pills,” Livesay says. “While there is no definitive answer, most experts recommend limiting junk food to occasional indulgence: This means only eating junk food or processed foods occasionally and choosing healthier options most of the time. It is important to be aware of what you are eating and To choose healthy options whenever possible.”

Wellness, parenting, body image and more: Learn about World Health Organization behind the How With the Yahoo Life newsletter. Register here.