Skip to main content
Press Room

New Study Finds Hazardous Greaseproof Chemicals in Fast Food Packages That Can Leach Into Food

(Olympia, WA) Americans love the convenience of fast food, but a new study should make them think twice before enjoying a burger, fries, or taco. A peer-reviewed study released today found one-third of fast food wrappers and boxes contain potentially harmful fluorinated chemicals that can leach into food. Washington state Representative Joan McBride (D-Redmond) has introduced legislation to ban these chemicals in fast food containers. The Healthy Food Packaging Act (HB 1744) will be heard in the House Environment Committee tomorrow, Thursday, February 2 at 8AM.

The new study, published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, tested 400 fast food wrappers and boxes from 27 fast food chains for the presence of perfluorinated or PFAS chemicals. Nearly half of wrappers used for items like burgers and pastries, and 20 percent of boxes used for items like pizza and fries, contained PFAS chemicals. Previous studies show these chemicals can leach into food from the packaging. Health experts are concerned because PFAS chemicals are linked to a wide variety of health effects, including cancer, low birth rate, and thyroid disease and stay in the body for years.

“Everyone loves a hot salty french fry but not if it contains chemicals linked to cancer. It’s very concerning that the use of PFAS chemicals in food packaging is so widespread when they’re not needed,” said Erika Schreder, science director for Toxic-Free Future (formerly Washington Toxics Coalition). “These chemicals are often called ‘virtually indestructible’ because they don’t break down. They are industrial chemicals and have no business in our food.”

The Healthy Food Packaging Act would ban PFAS chemicals in food packaging materials, including fast food wrappers and microwave popcorn bags, beginning July 1, 2018.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of three PFAS chemicals in food. However, more than 90 PFAS chemicals are still allowed by the FDA. These are the same class of chemicals used in stain resistant carpeting and waterproof clothing.

If Washington state passes a ban on PFAS chemicals, it would be the first state to do so.

Toxic-Free Future (formerly Washington Toxics Coalition) advocates for and wins strong science-based health protections for people and the environment.

# # #

Attention Reporters: Please contact Ivy Sager-Rosenthal, (206) 854-7623, [email protected], to arrange one-on-one interviews.

Press Contact

Stephanie Stohler, [email protected]

To receive timely press releases and statements to your inbox, members of the media can request to be added to our press list.