Takeout containers that may contain fluorinated compounds can stay in the soil and within our bodies long after the food has been ingested. These compounds are just one of nearly 5,000 perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, a class of compounds that have been connected to health hazards such as liver damage, impaired immunity, birth defects, and cancer. First created in the 1940s, PFAS repel grease, oil, and water, making them very useful for packaging greasy French fries and burgers. According to the Centers for Disease Control, PFAS have been found in nearly every American tested for them. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced an agreement with three major manufacturers of chemical products to phase out the PFAS known as 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (a.k.a. 6:2 FTOH). It is incumbent upon food retailers to implement PFAS-free packaging. Companies like Taco Bell and Whole Foods have promised to quickly implement chemical-free wrappers and containers. FDA spokesperson Peter Cassell said that not all PFAS have been found to be dangerous, and current food packaging does not warrant any immediate health risks. The phase-out has been given up to five years for completion. Starting in January 2021, packaging manufacturers must curtail production within three years, and existing products may be used for another 18 months after that. The FDA will track their progress in reducing 6:2 FTOH and will continue to study PFAS in general. Read more here at WIRED.
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