Read the full article by Kevin Loria (The Guardian)
“Independent testing of more than 100 packaging products from US restaurant and grocery chains identified PFAS chemicals in many of the wrappers, a Consumer Reports investigation has found.
The potentially dangerous ‘forever chemicals’ were found in food packaging including paper bags for french fries, wrappers for hamburgers, molded fiber salad bowls and single-use paper plates.
They were found in the packaging from every retailer CR looked at, including fast-food chains – such as Burger King and McDonald’s – and places that promote healthier fare, such as Cava and Trader Joe’s.
CR tested multiple samples of 118 food packaging products and found evidence of PFAS in more than half of those tested, while almost a third had levels beyond a threshold supported by CR experts and others.
In recent decades, PFAS exposure has been linked to a growing list of health problems, including immune system suppression, lower birth weight and increased risk for some cancers.
PFAS can be found not only in nonstick pans and waterproof gear but also in the grease-resistant packaging that holds food from takeout chains and supermarkets. A seemingly virtuous alternative to plastic, packaging made with PFAS often resembles paper or cardboard but salad dressing and fry oil do not leak through.
‘We know that these substances migrate into food you eat,’ said Justin Boucher, an environmental engineer at the Food Packaging Forum, a non-profit research organization based in Switzerland. ‘It’s clear, direct exposure.’
That’s especially likely when food is fatty, salty or acidic, according to a 2021 review in the journal Foods. Some research even suggests that PFAS levels are higher in people who regularly eat out.
Another concern: when packaging is tossed into the trash it can end up in landfills, and PFAS can contaminate water and soil, or it is incinerated, and PFAS can spread through the air.
Health and environmental advocates have been pushing for PFAS use to be restricted, especially in items such as food packaging. In response, some fast-food and fast-casual restaurants, as well as several grocery stores, say that they have taken steps to limit PFAS in their food packaging or that they plan to phase it out.”…