Chemicals that are used for industrial purposes and have no reason to be in the food chain have been found in more than 72 samples food products taken from around Albany, NY.

"Although it's not completely understood how phthalates get into our food, packaging may be a contributor to the levels of the toxin in food," said lead investigator Arnold Schecter, M.D., M.P.H., professor of environmental health at The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional campus, part of UTHealth.

Phthalates are chemicals used in the plasticization of home care products such as soaps, shampoos and perfumes. These chemicals have been linked detrimental effects on the reproductive system including damaging sperm, promoting premature breast development in girls and premature birth.

Researchers took samples from 72 food products including pizza, drinks and meats from supermarkets from all over Albany. Levels of phthalates were seen in every single food product purchased.

"It's unfortunate that we have these toxic chemicals in our bodies," said Schecter. "However, this is not a cause for alarm because the amount of phthalates found in the food falls below what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe. But it is cause for concern because these toxins and others previous reported by this group do not belong in our food or our bodies."

The report published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives can be found here.