I’ve got news about mac and cheese. And you’re not going to like it.


Hey moms. Please don’t get super angry at the messenger, but I have some news. Boxed mac and cheese is now a no-no. Are you freaking out? Yes? So am I. Let me explain.

First of all, let’s acknowledge that everything gets ruined. Including the only food some of our kids will eat.

But this week, The New York Times released an article stating that boxed mac and cheese—specifically the powered cheese—contains phthalates. But what’s a phthalate?

According to Wikidpedia, phthalates are “esters of phthalic acid and are mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).”

And according to the New York Times, phthalates “can disrupt male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavior problems in older children. The chemicals migrate into food from packaging and equipment used in manufacturing and may pose special risks to pregnant women and young children.”

Phthalates are also found in cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreen, cosmetics and shampoo.

My mother-in-law sent me this article on a Thursday, the day before our Friday Fun Night (a weekly at-home event where we let our kid watch a movie and eat mac and cheese). On the way home from school, I gave it to my daughter straight.

She did not take it well. I told her that we just found out that the cheese in her mac and cheese had chemicals in it. I said we were going to make our own mac and cheese! She threw a full-on tantrum on the way home, hysterical that “her favorite food” was “gone forever.”

But we went to the grocery store and bought three types of cheese. We made her beloved dinner the old fashioned way. And she ate it. And she liked it.

The study did not release specific brand names, and at this time no mac and cheese brands have released a statement.

Moms and dads who rely on the M&C as a dinner food for picky kids, don’t fret. There are countless recipes out there, and they’re better than the box. And if you don’t want to give up on your boxed brand, you can reach out to them and ask about their exposure to phthalates.

As for me, I enjoyed shoving spoonfuls of my homemade stuff into my mouth as much as the boxed. After all, pasta and cheese is pasta and cheese.