Petrochemical Identified in Recalled Kellogg’s Cereals

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

EWG Public Affairs: 202.667.6982
alex@ewg.org

Petrochemical Identified in Recalled Kellogg’s Cereals

Very Little Known About Health Risks of Food Packaging Chemical

WASHINGTON - Kellogg's
recently recalled close to 30 million boxes of some of its most popular
cereal brands after customers complained of getting sick from smelling
and eating breakfast mainstays such as Froot Loops and Apple Jacks.
 

Initial press reports did not identify any particular food additive or
packaging ingredient as a possible source of the problem. However, EWG
has learned from the company that the source of the odor was
methylnaphthalene.
 

Methylnaphthalene, which comes in two forms, is a component of crude oil
and coal tar and may also be formed "as a pyrolytic byproduct from the
combustion of tobacco, wood, petroleum-based fuels and coal," according
to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The petroleum-based
compound is produced in enormous quantities in the United States, and
health agencies know very little about its safety, EWG scientists have
learned. Full report here: http://www.ewg.org/health-risks-from-packaging


The latest EPA records show that companies have been producing the
chemical since at least 1986, currently in amounts of 1 million to 10
million pounds per year. Numerous health agencies have sought basic
safety data on the compound, but the government still has very little
information about this widely used chemical.
 

In 1998 EPA listed the compound as a high production volume (HPV)
chemical that lacked basic safety data in the public literature. In
response to requests by the agency, a consortium of large petrochemical
interests volunteered to provide vital safety data. They included BP,
Chevron, Condea Vista, Exxon, Fina Oil, Koch, Marathon Ashland, Mobil
Oil, PDV Midwest Refining, Phillips Petroleum, Shell and Sunoco. Eleven
years later, however, EPA's website shows no data whatsoever submitted
by these companies.

"What little we do know about the history of this chemical is checkered
at best," said EWG senior scientist Dave Andrews. "Millions of pounds
are produced every year, and this chemical is turning up in the
packaging for popular cereals marketed toward children. I think it's
important for federal public health agencies like the EPA and FDA to
know everything there is to know about the possible risks this fossil
fuel could pose to people's health."

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The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.

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