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PFAS Food Packaging Is No Longer Sold In the US

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says wrappers, bags, or boxes made with grease-proofing substances containing PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, are no longer used in food packaging.

On February 28, the FDA announced that due to the completion of a voluntary market phase-out plan, manufacturers are no longer selling grease-proofing materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for food contact use.

The phase-out completion means that packaging like microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers, pet food bags, and take-out paperboard containers made with these grease-proofing materials are being eliminated. The FDA said that PFAS food packaging is a significant source of dietary PFAS exposure.

The agency's announcement signals the fulfillment of a voluntary commitment from manufacturers initiated in 2020 to phase out the use of PFAS-containing paper and paperboard food packaging products.

The FDA asked companies to begin removing grease-proofing substances used in food packing products after it conducted a post-market safety assessment. The assessment found that PFAS in grease-proofing agents persisted in rodents after exposure and could potentially stay in the human body.

Because of the unknown health effects of this forever chemical, the FDA urged manufacturers to begin eliminating these agents in products used to package food.

The FDA says manufacturers initially said completing the phase-out could take 18 months. However, most finalized the action before that timeframe.

To ensure that food packaging remains free of PFAS-containing grease-proofing agents, the agency is working on methods to monitor food packaging in the marketplace.

While the announcement is encouraging, the FDA still authorizes certain PFAS chemicals for limited use in nonstick coating applications on pots and pans, sealing gaskets for food processing equipment, and specific food manufacturing aids.

PFAS exposure is linked to several adverse health effects, including certain types of cancer, reproductive issues, and metabolism changes in children. Avoiding these forever chemicals is challenging, as they have been found in everything from kale and toilet paper to drinking water.

However, people can help reduce exposure to PFAS by installing home water filters, using PFAS-free cleaning products, avoiding stain-resistant clothing, and reheating food in dishes that do not contain these potentially harmful chemicals.


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