Our Work: Phasing Out PFAS in Retail Food Packaging
Since 2018, Toxic Free Future’s market transformation program and its partners from across the country have been working to drive the nation’s largest grocery, fast-food, and fast-casual chains to ban PFAS in food packaging.
The campaign launched with more than 75 letters requesting action to address toxic PFAS sent to the top grocery and fast-food chains in North America, followed by product testing investigations at grocery store chains in 2018 and 2019. In the summer of 2020, the campaign released a follow-up study, Packaged in Pollution, finding nearly half of all food packaging samples tested positive for fluorine above the screening level indicating the likely presence of PFAS, including in the packaging of McDonald’s Big Mac and Burger King’s Whopper.
The campaign also launched online petitions signed by tens of thousands of consumers; published report cards analyzing retailer chemical policies; hosted actions at fast-food chains nationwide; published factsheets on alternatives and guidance for implementing restrictions on PFAS; engaged investors; co-authored a peer-reviewed study led by scientists at Toxic-Free Future, the University of Washington, and Indiana University finding PFAS in breast milk and an original investigative report tracing the toxic path of PFAS; and released a new campaign mascot, Polluted Polly, to inspire actions that break the toxic lifecycle of PFAS.
In response to the campaign, dozens of retailers selling food or food packaging announced steps to reduce or eliminate PFAS in food packaging at more than 140,000 stores, which includes Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Amazon.com, Burger King, Cava, Chipotle, Freshii, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Popeyes, Starbucks, Sweetgreen, Tim Hortons, Trader Joe’s, Wendy’s, and Whole Foods Market.