Do fast food takeout wrappers and containers harbor harmful chemicals?

pfas mcdonalds big mac packaging fast food august x c default

The containers that hold your takeout dinner may harbor an invisible threat: fluorinated compounds that persist in our bodies long after we ingest them. They are among almost 5,000 perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a class of chemicals that have been associated with health hazards that include liver damage, birth defects, cancer, and impaired immunity.

PFAS repel grease, oil, and water …. For decades, they have kept food from sticking on pans, hot oil from burning a hole in the microwave popcorn bag, and grease from leaking out of pizza boxes and burger wrappings.

[T]he FDA announced a voluntary agreement with three manufacturers of chemical products used in food packaging to phase out a PFAS called 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol, or 6:2 FTOH …. The move comes as food retailers face growing pressure to switch to PFAS-free packaging.

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“This action follows new analyses of data that raised questions about potential human health risks from chronic dietary exposure—findings that warrant further study,” FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn and Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, wrote in a statement …. FDA scientists …. analyzed toxicity data and found evidence of liver, kidney, immune, and reproductive effects related to the compound in rodents.

The FDA doesn’t consider all PFAS to be hazardous, and there’s no immediate health risk from the existing products, agency spokesperson Peter Cassell told WIRED. The phase-out will take up to five years.

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