Read the full article by Laura Schulte (Wasau Daily Herald)

“MADISON – Your beloved butter burger or cheese curds could come with a side of ‘forever chemicals,’ though Culver’s is working with its packaging vendors to phase out the toxic chemicals. 

The company uses some wrappers containing PFAS, or oper- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

‘At Culver’s, we are always looking for ways to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our guests — including the movement to phase out PFAS from food packaging,’ said Eric Skrum, Culver’s Director of Public Relations and Communications, in an emailed statement. ‘All but one of our many suppliers have already achieved PFAS-free status and they are on track to be PFAS-free by the end of this year.’

The company declined to offer any further details about which food wrappers contained PFAS, or what percentage of their food wrappers are purchased from the company still using the compounds.

It isn’t surprising to find that a company has PFAS in its wrappings, according to Department of Health Services toxicologist Sarah Yang. 

‘We know that food can be a major source of PFAS exposure — some studies estimate up to 50% of PFAS exposure can be from food,’ she said in an email. ‘However, it is unclear whether this exposure is from the food itself or the packaging.’

PFAS are a family of man-made chemicals used for their water- and stain-resistant qualities in a multitude of products we come into contact with, such as clothing and carpet, nonstick cookware and packaging. The family includes 5,000 compounds, which are persistent, remaining both in the environment and human body over time. 

The chemicals have been linked to types of kidney and testicular cancers, lower birth weights, harm to immune and reproductive systems, altered hormone regulation and altered thyroid hormones. The chemicals enter the human body largely through drinking water, but can also be consumed if food comes into contact with PFAS-containing packaging. 

But even though the compounds are used in many types of food wrappers, levels of PFAS in water are a larger concern. 

‘At this time, data are not available to estimate risk from food packaging exposure,’ Yang said. ‘On the other hand, when levels of PFAS in drinking water are elevated, drinking water can be the dominant source of exposure.’

Culver’s is far from the only fast-food restaurant to use PFAS in its food wrappers. The chemicals are known for their ability to resist grease and keep it from migrating into your lap during your on-the-go lunch in the car.”…