People are not happy about Peta tweeting that ‘eating chicken can make your kid’s dick small’.
The claim is based on a study which links phthalates – a chemical used in packaging that can migrate into meat and cheese in the US* – to stunted foetal development. So it’s an important thing to raise awareness of.
People become vegetarians for many reasons: concerns about animal welfare, concerns about the environment, and even simply concerns about their health. Well, how about anxieties about your unborn child’s penis?
That’s the message PETA posted to Facebook in a video called “Eating Chicken Can Make Your Kid’s Penis Small.”
According to their video, phthalate – a family of chemicals used in plastics, paints and packaging – leads to male children being born with a smaller penis. The video goes on to say that these phthalates have been found in chicken flesh. In their words: “The more chicken consumed, the smaller the penis.”
The study PETA is referring to is a 2008 report by the National Institute of Health. The report manuscript itself doesn’t make any explicit link between chicken and a child’s penis size, or in fact any reference to chicken at all.
Talking about how people might come into contact with said chemicals, the report says “Phthalates have been measured in residential indoor environments in both house dust and indoor air. They have also been measured in foods, milk and drinking water. However, the relative contribution from the various sources and routes of exposure to phthalates is unknown.”
Out of the 106 boys looked at in the study, all of the 29 deemed to be on the “shorter” end of the spectrum had mothers who were above a “low level” of phthalate exposure. In the “longer” 28 penises, only one of their mothers had a “high level” of phthalate exposure. They summarized: “These findings warrant current concerns that low dose phthalate exposures affect several markers of human male genital development.”
While the findings certainly found some link between a mother’s phthalate exposure and her boy’s penis size, the direct correlation between how much chicken a mother eats and a child’s penis size is a faint one.
Nonetheless, it does seem like the video was intended as a light-hearted jape.
Ben Williamson, senior international media director at PETA, told VICE: “PETA’s humorous new video is simply trying to warn potential new parents about the link between eating chicken and stunted penis growth. Chicken flesh has been shown to cause higher levels of the phthalate Mono(2-ethylhexyl), or MEHP as it’s better known. That’s a fancy name for a chemical that can shrink the penises of unborn children.”
He concluded, “Our new ad is simply trying to help people who are concerned about the development of their unborn child. It’s a humorous video with a serious message.”
Even so, if you are thinking of laying off the deep fried chicken, or even meat in general, then there are plenty of reasons to do so (insecurity of your unborn son’s penis size aside).