Report Reveals Dangerous Chemicals Found In Fast Food Packaging

There's now another reason to limit your intake of fast food. According to a recent report by Consumer Reports, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can be found in a variety of products including the packaging used to hold your food from many fast food chains. Referred to as "forever chemicals," these chemicals are resistant to heat, water, oil, and corrosion, making them ideal to hold greasy food while it's transported to your home.

"We know that these substances migrate into food you eat," says Justin Boucher, an environmental engineer at the Food Packaging Forum, a nonprofit research organization based in Switzerland. "It's clear, direct exposure." Some restaurants found to have PFAS include McDonald's, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Cava, and Trader Joe's. Consumer Reports believes that there should be no issue with companies reducing or eliminating these chemicals from their products. "We know from our testing that it is feasible for retailers to use packaging with very low PFAS levels," says Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.

Companies that have promised to eliminate "forever chemicals"

After Consumer Reports shared that many fast food restaurants and grocery stores were using per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in their packaging, several of those companies announced that they would be eliminating said chemicals from their products as soon as possible. According to The Washington Post, Burger King, Tim Hortons, Popeyes, and Chick-fil-A have already announced plans to remove "forever chemicals" from their packaging.

The state of California has already banned adding PFAS to materials, although it will allow up to 100 parts per million organic fluorine. The country of Denmark has banned any more than 20 parts per million, which Consumer Reports agrees is a better threshold. "If they can get to 100 ppm, they should be able to get to 20 ppm," said Graham Peaslee, PhD, a professor of physics, chemistry, and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, who has studied PFAS. "Lower is always the ultimate goal."