FDA: Food Packaging Containing PFAS No Longer Sold in the United States

'Forever chemicals' are tied to a host of health issues and are slow to degrade in the environment
FDA: Food Packaging Containing PFAS No Longer Sold in the United States
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WEDNESDAY, Feb. 28, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will no longer be added to food packaging in the United States.

"Grease-proofing materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are no longer being sold for use in food packaging in the U.S.," Jim Jones, the agency's Commissioner for Human Foods, said in a statement. "This means the major source of dietary exposure to PFAS from food packaging like fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out paperboard containers, and pet food bags is being eliminated."

PFAS were long used in food packaging because they resist grease, oil, water, and heat, the FDA explained. However, there is mounting evidence that certain types of PFAS are tied to "serious health effects," the agency said.

According to the nonprofit National Resource Defense Council, "PFAS have now been linked to a wide range of health risks in both human and animal studies -- including cancer [kidney and testicular], hormone disruption, liver and thyroid problems, interference with vaccine effectiveness, reproductive harm, and abnormal fetal development."

"The structure of PFAS means they resist breakdown in the environment and in our bodies," explained Eric Olson, the NRDC senior strategic director of health and food. "Second, they move relatively quickly through the environment, making their contamination hard to contain. Third, for some PFAS, even extremely low levels of exposure can negatively impact our health."

According to Jones, the agency's efforts to ban PFAS chemicals from food packaging stems from solid science and involved the cooperation of industry. "In 2020, the FDA engaged companies to cease sales of grease-proofing substances that contain certain types of PFAS following our postmarket safety assessment," Jones said. "The research FDA scientists conducted and published played a large part in helping the agency obtain commitments from manufacturers to voluntarily phase out the use of these substances containing PFAS in paper and paperboard food packaging products."

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