After writing about PETA's letter to the National Buffalo Wing Festival earlier this week, we received a letter of our own from Amanda Schinke, senior media writer for the organization. Schinke wanted to share a "separate analysis" of the research she mentioned in the original letter. This study, completed by the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and University of Michigan School of Public Health, looked at the impact of phthalate exposure on the body -- and it did involve chicken.
The study didn't mention chicken wings specifically but did find that poultry and eggs generally contained the highest levels mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP), a type of phthalate that showed high correlation to smaller penis size. The study looked at a range of food types including meat, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetable, and dairy.
You can read the letter from PETA below:
I'm writing on PETA's behalf regarding your post about our letter to the National Buffalo Wing Festival, which warned that findings from research show that eating poultry during pregnancy may lead to smaller penis size in male infants. While we appreciate the New Times' coverage of our letter, we wanted to point out that there was a factual error in the post that requires correction.
The post states, "[T]hey found that the study the letter refers to didn't actually look at chicken consumption at all. What the study did look at was 'how prenatal phthalate exposure affects boys reproductively in a variety of ways, one of which was penis size.'" To clarify, there are two studies that should be considered together. This research from the Study for Future Families shows that a particular type of phthalate called mono-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (MEHP) is associated with smaller penis size in infants, whereas in a separate analysis published in Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers found the most statistically significant food associated with increased levels of MEHP to be poultry, as stated on page 1,002: "Poultry consumption was significantly associated with creatinine-adjusted DEHP metabolites MEHP, MEHHP, MEOHP, and MECPP as well as high-molecular-weight phthalate metabolites. Additionally, the finding that egg consumption is significantly associated with levels of MEHP suggests that chickens themselves may be contaminated with phthalates and that food is not being contaminated just through packaging and processing."
The video mentioned in the letter is below and explains a little bit more about phthalates in food. Of course, it's worth pointing out again that these chemicals are pretty much everywhere, and while most phthalates that make it into our bodies do so orally through food, phthalates can also be inhaled since the chemicals volatilize from PVC, nail polish, hair spray and a bunch of other phthalate-containing products.
But if you're super paranoid about your child's ability to please his future partner in bed, feel free to add poultry to the already depressingly long list of things to avoid while pregnant.