Consumer Reports - Harmful Chemicals Might Be Lurking in Fast-Food Packaging

February 1, 2017

Scientists detect such compounds in burger wrappers and french-fry sleeves. Here's how to reduce your risk.

Excerpt: A new study shows that you might want to think about more than calories, fat, and sodium when you’re grabbing a burger and fries from the drive-thru.

The study shows that fast-food packaging, such as wrappers and boxes, might contain chemicals that have negative health effects.

Researchers from the Silent Spring Institute; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Notre Dame; and other institutions collected more than 400 samples of packaging from fast-food restaurants across the country—including Chipotle, McDonald’s, and Subway—and found that 33 percent of them contained some form of the chemical fluorine.

“We’ve all heard that eating more fresh foods is better for our health for a wide range of reasons,” says Laurel Schaider, Ph.D., research scientist with the Silent Spring Institute and the lead study author. “This study provides another reason why.”

The good news, however, is that most fast-food packaging did not contain any fluorine, Shaider says. This shows that some manufacturers might be using fluorine compound-free chemicals to get the water- and grease-resistant effects they want without using compounds that carry a health risk, she says.

Chemicals in Food Packaging