A new report warns that the packaging of FAST-food restaurants from a variety of big-name chains could contain high levels of dangerous chemicals.
A number of popular restaurants Consumer reports have been singled out for using greaseproof packaging that “forever contains chemicals” that don’t break down in the environment.
According to the research, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are used by chains like Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, Arby’s and Sweetgreen to prevent grease and water from seeping through food packaging and cups.
“PFAS are materials that the average person should be aware of,” said James Dickerson, Consumer Reports’ chief scientific officer in 2019.
“CR has been addressing the issue of chemical exposure for more than 80 years. PFAS and similar compounds have emerged as significant potential risks that should be mitigated.”
In the latest report consumer reports tested over 100 products from well-known chains and were stunned to discover that PFAS were present in some packaging at each retailer tested.
The highest concentrations of PFAS indicators were found in food packaging from Nathan’s Famous, Cava, Arby’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, Stop & Shop and Sweetgreen, according to the report.
The chemicals have been found in many types of packaging: paper bags for chip cookies, hamburger wrappers, molded fiber salad bowls and disposable paper plates.
However, all companies listed also had some packaging tested at levels below 200 parts per million, which compares reasonably to the high PFAS indicators of 500ppm.
“We know from our testing that it’s possible for retailers to use packaging that is very low in PFAS,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports.
“So the good news is that there are steps companies can take now to reduce their use of these hazardous chemicals.”
Because PFAS are so widespread, it would be almost impossible to completely eliminate them from the environment — but getting to low levels is an achievable goal.
Many fast food chains plan to phase out the use of PFAS in the coming years. According to consumer reports MC Donalds plans to get rid of the hazardous material by 2025.
A spokesman for Chick-Fil-A told The Sun that the company has been working for the past four years to change its packaging products to meet all applicable regulatory standards in order to work towards using more sustainable materials.
“Chick-fil-A has intentionally removed added PFAS from all new packaging produced in our supply chain going forward,” the spokesman said.
“While some older packaging may still be found in restaurants, it is expected to be phased out by the end of this summer.”
This was announced by a spokesman for Arby CNN that the company “has minimal packaging materials containing PFAs and is on track to eliminate PFAs from all packaging products by the end of 2022.”
Cava released a statement earlier this month, stating, “Due to a variety of factors related to the pandemic, and particularly global supply chain shortages, the transition to eliminating added PFAs that began in August 2021 is taking longer than planned . Our teams are working with our suppliers to complete the transition within the year.”
Stop & Shop has confirmed that the Nature’s Promise brand tags mentioned in this consumer report have been removed from all stores.
“We stand behind the safety and quality of our Nature’s Promise private label products,” said a spokesman for Stop & Shop.
The use of “Forever Chemicals” is not only hazardous to health, but also endangers the environment.
According to the Environmental Protection AgencyPFAS can be found in water, air, fish and soil around the world as it ends up in landfills.
PFAS can contaminate water and soil and even air when the substances are burned.
Many health and environmental activists are pushing for federal limits on PFAS food packaging, as measures are currently a state matter.
California is expected to set the limit for PFAS at less than 100 ppm in January 2023.
Burger King, McDonald’s, Sweetgreen, Arby’s, Cava and Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs did not respond to The Sun’s request for comment.
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https://www.the-sun.com/news/4982956/fast-food-wrappers-harmful-chemicals-pfas-health/ Food packaging from fast-food chains like Burger King, Chick-fil-A and Arby’s “contain harmful chemicals,” the report says