FDA says PFAS chemicals are no longer sold for food packaging

On Wednesday the FDA announced certain grease-proofing substances containing per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, would no longer be sold for use in food packaging in the U.S.

The chemicals are applied to paper or paperboard packaging for waterproofing and to prevent leaks of oils and greases. They were commonly found in fast-food wrapping, microwave popcorn bags, takeout containers and pet food packaging.

The chemicals were in widespread use and do not degrade easily in the environment, which led to contamination in water and soil and to accumulation in humans and animals. 

Current scientific research has found exposure to certain levels of PFAS may contribute to adverse reproductive effects, developmental delays in children, lowered immune response and increased risk of some cancers.

Following a market-wide safety assessment of PFAS packaging, the FDA in 2020 asked manufacturers to end the sale of packaging that included these chemicals. 

Most manufacturers had phased our their use of these products before the FDA’s recommended deadline.

“This FDA-led effort represents a positive step forward as we continue to reevaluate chemicals authorized for use with, and in, food,” said Jim Jones, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for human foods. “It underscores an important milestone in the protection of U.S. consumers from potentially harmful food-contact chemicals.”

The FDA is now working on ways to monitor the market and analyze any continued use of PFAS in packaging.