🔓Dangerous chemicals found in fast food containers, wrappers can spread to food, testing finds

Consumer Reports discusses PFAS chemicals found in popular fast food containers, how costumers can limit exposure

YONKERS, N.Y. – Think about that takeout food order you made recently. Almost all of it probably came wrapped or boxed in one form or another, and it’s what’s in some of that packaging that is raising concern.

A new investigation from Consumer Reports found potentially dangerous chemicals in many commonly used food wrappers.

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The team tested more than 100 food packaging products for so-called forever chemicals, or PFAS, from popular retailers. What they found is concerning.

“We found PFAS in many types of packaging. In packaging from fast food restaurants and from grocery stores. We even found it in packaging from places that say they’re moving away from PFAS,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Kevin Loria.

PFAS are also known as forever chemicals because they don’t break down in landfills and have been linked to serious health problems such as increased risk for some cancers, lowered immunity and liver damage.

So if PFAS is in food packaging, is it also in the food?

“PFAS can migrate from packaging into food you eat, like that burger wrapped in paper that contains PFAS, or that salad in a molded fiber bowl,” Loria said.

Research even suggests that people who eat out regularly may indeed have higher PFAS levels in their blood.

Paper bags, molded fiber bowls and single-use plates had the highest PFAS levels on average from all the food packaging tested, while takeout containers and paper trays had some of the lowest levels.

In response to Consumer Reports, some companies stressed that with PFAS so common in the environment, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate the chemicals entirely. Several companies are also in the process of redoing their packaging to phase out PFAS.

“Still, more than half of the products we tested had low PFAS levels, so it’s clearly possible for companies to reach lower levels,” Loria said.

In the meantime, Consumer Reports recommends you transfer your take-out food out of its packaging when you can, and that you don’t reheat your food in its packaging.

It also helps to look for retailers that have pledged to reduce PFAS. While CR found their levels were not at zero, they tended to be lower than elsewhere.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.