Reuters - Toxic chemicals in one-third of fast food packaging

February 1, 2017

By Lisa Rapaport


Fast food isn’t exactly known for its health benefits, but a new U.S. study suggests even the packaging may be harmful.

That’s because the study found one-third of fast food packaging contains chemicals known as PFASs (for polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances) that give it stain-resistant, water-repellant and nonstick properties. The trouble is these fluorinated chemicals have also been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, hormone problems, high cholesterol, obesity and immune suppression in human and animal studies.

“Our study is the most comprehensive assessment of how common fluorinated chemicals are in fast food wrappers in the U.S., and which types of wrappers are most likely to contain them,” said lead study author Laurel Schaider of the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts.

“We found that nearly half of paper wrappers, for instance wrappers for sandwiches and burgers and flat bags for cookies and pastries, contained fluorinated chemicals, and that around 20 percent of paperboard packaging, for instance boxes for French fries and fried foods, contained fluorinated chemicals,” Schaider added by email.

Chemicals in Food Packaging