Study finds PFAS in dozens of packaged food products in restaurants and grocery stores

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A recent study by Consumer Reports found PFAS present in packaging products from all 24 popular retailers they examined.

Source: Last week tonight/Youtube

PFAS are a synthetic chemical used in nonstick and stain resistant products. They can be found everywhere, from pizza boxes to the carpet in your home. PFAS are often referred to as “eternal chemicals” because they persist in the environment.

They’re currently allowed in every state except Hawaii, and are found in a range of items you wouldn’t expect, such as furniture, rainwear, food wraps, rubbers, plastics, and even dental floss.

The new independent tests found that more than 100 U.S. restaurant and grocery packaging products contained PFAS chemicals. Even stores considered healthier, like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, had the chemical present in their food packaging.

The report tested samples of 118 food packaging products and found evidence of PFAS in more than half of them. Some levels are terribly high. The “eternal chemicals” have been found in chip bags, burger wrappers, salad bowls, paper plates and even fiber trays.

PFAS has been linked to health problems such as immune system suppression, low birth weight and increased risk of cancer. Packaging made from PFAS often looks like paper or cardboard, but is smooth and oil resistant. Like plastic, these chemicals can leach into the food or drink they contain, causing study in 2021 found is even more likely when the food is greasy, salty or acidic like most fast foods. Also, like plastic, PFAS can contaminate water and soil when they end up in landfills and when burned, the chemical spreads through the air.

Source: DW Planet A/Youtube

Many of the companies tested at some point said they would abandon the use of PFAS and use much lower levels. This study is a “gotcha!” moment, and these companies need to be held accountable for what they say and what they expose the public to through their products. There are over 9,000 known PFASs, and current testing can only identify a fraction of them. Indestructible compounds are found in the air, water, our bodies, food, our homes, practically in most things in our daily lives.

Intentionally added PFAS will be banned in California starting in January 2023, and paper food packaging contains far less than 100 ppm of organic fluoride, a component of PFAS. Experts from Denmark and Consumer Report agreed that 20 ppm is the threshold they support, and that should be what companies are aiming for. In the report, 37 products had levels above 20 ppm and 22 were above 100 ppm.

Currently, the EPA has guidelines for PFAS in drinking water, but more needs to be done to keep these dangerous chemicals out of our food, water, and air.

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