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Toxic-Free Tips for Summer Treats

07.26.2018

What's the perfect summer meal? It has to be a dinner with friends and family, grilled outside, accompanied by yummy sides and followed with delicious desserts—along with long, meandering conversations as the hot day cools into evening.

There's only one problem with this classic summer scene: as with food in every season, this beautiful summer meal could contain some toxic chemicals that no one wants to eat.

Follow these tips to make sure your summer treats are safer and less toxic:

1. Avoid nonstick grills and grill pans. Nonstick cookware is coated with PFAS chemicals, short for "per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances." When a nonstick grill or grill pan is heated up, it can leach these toxic chemicals into the food that you eat. These chemicals are linked to kidney and testicular cancer, liver toxicity, hormone disruption, harm to the immune system, and reduced birth weight—they really don't belong in food.

2. Make those delicious side dishes from scratch. PFAS chemicals are also used in grease-resistant food packaging, like take-out wrappers. More processed food has also been found to contain higher levels of phthalates (THAL-eights), which are industrial plasticizers added to materials like plastics and rubber. Phthalates can leach into food during the manufacturing process—so much so that research shows food is the number one way we're exposed to phthalates.

Phthalates exposure is linked to infertility, ADHD, and obesity. Making classic BBQ side dishes like macaroni and cheese from scratch—with less packaging and processing, a likely source of phthalates in boxed macaroni and cheese powders—can help reduce your exposure to these toxic chemicals.

Unfortunately, until the government and food manufacturers take action to get these toxic chemicals out of food, it's impossible to avoid them completely. Sign our petition calling on leading food manufacturer Kraft Heinz to take public action to keep phthalates out of food.

3. Stick to fresh fruits and berries for dessert. Less processed foods contain lower levels of toxic industrial chemicals. And with so many fruits and berries in season in the summer—like peaches, plums, cherries, strawberries, and blueberries—you can't go wrong with a fresh, local find. (Just make sure to seek out organic, if it's affordable for you.)

Unfortunately not everyone has access to less processed foods and fresh, organic fruit. We're working to make sure that all families, no matter where they live and how much money they make, has access to toxic-free food to eat in summer and all seasons. Will you support our safer food work today?