NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that the Food and Drug Administration should launch a formal investigation into the health consequences of chemicals used in fast food packaging.
Schumer on Sunday released a letter he sent to the head of the agency asking for the investigation into phthalates, which are used in plastics to make them more flexible and harder to break.
Some phthalates have been linked to health issues, both developmental and reproductive.
“They exist in the packaging in a slew of different products in the fast food industry,” Schumer said.
People can be exposed to phthalates if they eat or drink food that’s come into contact with containers made with the chemicals. Schumer noted that phthalates are banned in some items, but not in packaging.
“According to the Journal of Medicine, people – especially kids – who consume a lot of fast food have dangerous levels of phthalates in their system,” Schumer said.
Schumer pointed out that some types of phthalates have been restricted from use in such items as children’s furniture and baby bottles. He asked the FDA to launch an investigation to determine how safe fast food packaging is.
Giving a staffer credit for the choice of words, Schumer said, “The data has been gathered by the CDC and the Journal of American Medicine, and it’s sitting in Burgatory.”
Schumer also addressed a tick-borne threat – but not Lyme disease as carried by the deer tick. Another pest known as the Lone Star tick leaves patients unable to eat red meat without a severe allergic reaction.
He said tick-borne illnesses, including Lyme disease and the meat allergy from the Lone Star tick – are being “neglected” by the National Institutes of Health.
“The NIH has to spend a lot more effort into looking into tick-borne illnesses, and particularly this new one from the Lone Star tick that makes you very sick if you eat any kind of meat,” Schumer said.
Finally, Schumer spoke about his crusade to persuade airlines to make seats wider and give passengers more leg room.
“They stuff us into airplanes like we’re a bunch of sardines,” he said.
Schumer said he had legislation on the floor of the Senate to require more leg room on planes, and it was defeated. But he said there is now new evidence that being cramped in airplanes is a safety hazard.
He asked the Federal Aviation Administration to determine whether there is a safety hazard in narrow seats, and require the airlines to provide more room.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)