Fast food wrappers may contain hazardous PFCs – EWG Study

Fast food wrappers may contain hazardous PFCs!

This family of chemicals, which includes DuPont’s notorious “Teflon Chemical” PFOA, are commonly used in clothing, cookware, and food wrappers as water-, grease- or stain-repellents.

PFCs are linked to cancer, high cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, reproductive and developmental harm.

Scientists from nonprofit research organizations including EWG, federal and state regulatory agencies and academic institutions collaborated to test samples of sandwich and pastry wrappers, french fry bags, pizza boxes, and other paper and paperboard from 27 fast food chains and several local restaurants in five regions of the U.S. They found that of the 327 samples used to serve food, collected in 2014 and 2015, 40 percent tested positive for fluorine.

The presence of fluorine does not automatically indicate the presence of PFCs. But authors of the study include an Environmental Protection Agency expert who, in further tests of a smaller number of samples, found that the vast majority of materials he tested contained known PFCs. He also found that some samples showed traces of the former Teflon chemical PFOA, which, the most current research shows, is harmful at extraordinarily small doses.

Table 1 shows the test results for food contact paper and paperboard from 27 fast food chains.

Source: EWG, from L. Schaider et al., Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging.
Environmental Science and Technology Letters, February 2017.

For details, please read EWG article.

EWG Guide to How to Avoid PFCs

Food: Cut back on fast food and greasy carryout food. These foods often come in PFC-treated wrappers.

Cookware: Avoid non-stick pans and kitchen utensils. Opt for stainless steel or cast iron instead.

Popcorn: Pop popcorn the old-fashioned way – on the stovetop. Microwaveable popcorn bags are often coated with PFCs on the inside.

Personal Care Products: Choose personal care products without “PTFE” or “fluoro” ingredients. Use EWG’s Skin Deep database and app to find safer choices. Avoid using Oral-B Glide floss, which is made by Gore-Tex.

Outdoor/Clothing: Do your research, especially when buying outdoor gear, and choose clothing that doesn’t carry Gore-Tex or Teflon tags. Be wary of all fabrics labeled stainor water-repellent, even when they don’t carry a recognizable brand tag.

House: Find products that haven’t been pre-treated and skip optional stain-repellent treatment on new carpets and furniture. Many of these coatings are made with PFCs.