General Mills facing revived push to cut plastic chemicals in food

FILE-A general view of the General Mills Headquarters in the Golden Valley in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

General Mills is being called on to remove plastic chemicals from some of its food products after a signed petition by Consumer Reports and several advocacy groups was sent to the company headquarters last week demanding change. 

The petition, which has over 30,000 signatures, comes after Consumer Reports tested 85 different foods and found phthalates, a commonly used plasticizer, in Annie's Organic Cheesy Ravioli, a brand owned by General Mills. Other General Mills products containing the plasticizer include the Yoplait, Cheerios, Green Giant, and Progresso brands. 

"Given that steady exposure to even very small amounts of these chemicals over time could increase health risks, we urge Annie's and General Mills to immediately take the necessary steps to monitor and eliminate the presence of these chemicals across all of your brands," the petition reads on Consumer Reports website

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Plasticizers are chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and durable and have been linked to many health concerns. 

The National Institutes of Health noted that studies have linked the substances to potential health risks including interfering with the production of estrogen and hormones, and diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and birth defects.

Consumer Reports earlier this year submitted a letter to General Mills encouraging the Minnesota-based company to perform testing on their products where plasticizers may be contained and to take steps to reduce exposure.

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"Plastic chemicals in food pose a silent but serious threat to public health," Meg Bohne, associate director of campaigns for Consumer Reports, said in a statement in a release on May 30. "It is troubling that so many of the General Mills food products we tested had concerning levels of harmful phthalates.

But General Mills responded to Consumer Reports claims. 

"We are disappointed with the claims made by Consumer Reports and believe their study is misleading. Food safety is and always has been our top priority. We’re incredibly proud of our products, serve them in our homes and stand by their quality," Mollie Wulff, a spokesperson at General Mills told FOX Television Stations in an email. 

This story was reported from Washington, D.C.