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Food Packaging at Fast-Food Restaurants Release PFAS into Your Food

Posted on: August 11th, 2020

Fast-Food Packaging

A new report from Toxic-Free Future, a nonprofit group, and the Mind the Store campaign, an initiative of the organization Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, has found that some food packaging at your favorite fast-food restaurants contain high levels of PFAS chemicals.

The food packaging in question consists of burger boxes, disposable bowls, wrappers and other packaging fast-food giants rely on daily.

From Consumer Reports magazine: “PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are often called “forever chemicals” because they’re close to indestructible. There are nearly 5,000 types, and most haven’t been closely studied. Among the ones that have, many have been linked to harmful health effects including decreased fertility, hormonal changes, high cholesterol levels, weakened immune system response, increased risk for certain cancers and low birth weight in infants.”

PFAS chemicals are used in food packaging in order to prevent grease and oil from seeping through the food packaging. After all, consumers aren’t interested in picking up a quick lunch from their local fast-food restaurant only to be left with a mess all over their hands and clothes later on.

But that impenetrability is not achieved naturally but chemically – contaminating the food you eat and ultimately your body. While people are not ingesting wrappers and containers, it appears that PFAS are releasing into your food simply by direct contact. Studies followed U.S. residents over a 12-year period (who frequented fast-food restaurants) finding nearly all of them had traces of PFAS in their system.

Graham Peaslee, Ph.D., a Professor of Experimental Nuclear Physics and of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame, says, “The use of PFAS is not going to be sustainable. If chains really want to be eco-friendly, they should switch to PFAS-free bowls and packaging.”

Currently, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prohibits some PFAS chemicals from being used in food packing, and individual states such as Maine and Washington have passed PFAS restrictions. Several PFAS manufactures have also agreed to start voluntarily phasing out additional PFAS use in food packaging after the agency raised concerns over its safety in late July.

Plant based and molded pulp applications have been touted as being a safe, convenient and economical alternative to PFAS infused food packaging going forward.

Fiber Sustainable Packaging

Learn how molded pulp creates a safe packaging alternative.

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