Non-stick chem­i­cals in fast food pack­ag­ing

Global Times - Weekend - - DINING -

Burg­ers, fries, ta­cos and pas­tries come wrapped in grease-proof pa­per and boxes that of­ten con­tain non-stick chem­i­cals that may be able to leach into food, US re­searchers said last week.

The study in the jour­nal En­vi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Let­ters tested more than 400 sam­ples from 27 fast food chains in the US.

Al­most half of pa­per wrap­pers and 20 per­cent of pa­per­board sam­ples – such as boxes for fries and pizza – con­tained flu­o­rine, a marker for highly flu­o­ri­nated chem­i­cals used in stain-re­sis­tant car­pets, non­stick cook­ware and wa­ter­proof out­door ap­parel.

“Wrap­pers for Tex-Mex food, desserts and breads were the most likely to con­tain flu­o­rine,” said the re­port.

The study did not show any spe­cific harm to hu­man health from ex­po­sure to these chem­i­cals – known as per- and polyflu­o­roalkyl sub­stances (PFASs) – that are used in food wrap­pers.

But re­searchers warned that ex­po­sure to some PFASs has been as­so­ci­ated with can­cer, thy­roid dis­ease, im­mune sup­pres­sion, low birth weight, and de­creased fer­til­ity ac­cord­ing to prior stud­ies.

“These chem­i­cals have been linked with nu­mer­ous health prob­lems, so it’s con­cern­ing that peo­ple are po­ten­tially ex­posed to them in food,” said lead au­thor Lau­rel Schaider, an en­vi­ron­men­tal chemist at the Silent Spring In­sti­tute. “Chil­dren are espe­cially at risk for health ef­fects be­cause their de­vel­op­ing bodies are more vul­ner­a­ble to toxic chem­i­cals.”

Six of the sam­ples con­tained a long-chain PFAS called per­flu­o­rooc­tanoic acid, also known as C8, even though sev­eral ma­jor US man­u­fac­tur­ers agreed to stop­ping us­ing C8 com­pounds in food pack­ag­ing due to health haz­ards, after a 2011 US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion re­view.

About one in three US kids eat fast food every day.

The US be­gan phas­ing out cer­tain PFASs in 2000, but other coun­tries still pro­duce them, and they tend to linger in the en­vi­ron­ment for long pe­ri­ods after be­ing dis­carded in land­fills.

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