Fast Foods, Forever

Who ordered chemical toxins with their pizza?



The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today sent a public letter to food packaging manufacturers and users explaining when companies can use fluorine gas to create plastic containers. “The letter fails even to promise enforcement action for unauthorized uses of prohibited chemicals,” notes the Environmental Working Group (EWG). Fluorine gas can produce polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) when it is applied to plastic containers. The PFAS then can leach into food, posing health risks.

PFAS are a large group of industrial chemicals that cause increased risk of cancer, harm to fetal development, and reduced vaccine effectiveness. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and they build up in our blood and organs. Fluorine is a chemical that indicates the presence of PFAS.

Between 2002 and 2016, the FDA approved 19 PFAS for use in food packaging. Collaborating with the EPA, non-governmental organizations and academic colleagues, EWG found nearly half of fast food wrappers collected in 2014 and 2015 had detectable levels of PFAS in a report published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

The Food and Drug Administration is again failing to protect consumers from the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, says EWG. “Despite evidence that PFAS from these containers can contaminate the food in them, the FDA is merely reminding food packaging makers against unauthorized use of the substances, instead of banning them.”

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