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Potentially Harmful Chemicals Found in One-Third of Fast Food Wrappers

Potentially Harmful Chemicals Found in One-Third of Fast Food Wrappers


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A study from the Silent Spring Institute found fluorinated compounds in packaging that can leak into your food

It’s not just what’s on the inside, but what’s on the outside that counts, when it comes to health risks.

Fast food may be the popular scapegoat for the rise in obesity across America, but did you know that even the packaging your burger comes in could pose as a risk? A new study from the Silent Spring Institute — an organization that establishes links between cancer and environmental causes — has shown that potentially harmful chemicals known as fluorinated compounds (PFASs) are found in one-third of fast-food wrappers.

The chemicals are used as grease-resistant agents and are described as “highly persistent synthetic chemicals, which have been associated with cancer.” Exposure to the chemicals is particularly associated with a rise in testicular and kidney cancer. These chemicals are also used, "to give water-repellant, stain-resistant, and non-stick properties to consumer products such as furniture, carpets, outdoor gear, clothing, cosmetics (and) cookware.” In other words, PFASs are everywhere.

Scientists researched wrappers from Grand Rapids, Mich., Washington, D.C., Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston over the course of two years. In their findings, approximately 56 percent of dessert and bread wrappers contain these carcinogenic chemicals, while 38 percent of burger and sandwich wrappers are at risk, and 20 percent of paperboard containers as well (think French fry holders).


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.


Dangerous Chemicals in Fast-Food Packaging

Ever wonder why all the grease in fast food doesn&rsquot just soak right through the box and paper packaging used to wrap it? The answer is a creation of the chemical industry called grease-repellant fluorinated compounds, which came into use in the 1940s. These chemicals not only repel grease but are also non-stick, water-repellant, and stain-resistant&mdashin short, a fast-food packaging dream. But they might not be so miraculous when it comes to our health, research has shown. And while some fluorinated compounds have been banned for food-related uses, others remain in wide circulation at fast-food chains&mdashexposing us and the environment to potentially dangerous chemicals, a new report has revealed.

Historically, the most commonly used type of fluorinated compounds were a class called PFCs, or perfluorinated chemicals. The FDA banned their use in food-related products in 2016, after studies (mostly in animals) linked the chemicals with health problems, including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. They did not, however, ban other fluorinated chemicals that may present similar health hazards. These continue to be widely used in fast-food packages, according to the new research, published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

For the study, scientists from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group and other institutions and government agencies analyzed 407 fast food packages from more than two dozen fast food chains. One-third of the packages contained fluorinated chemicals, with sandwich wraps and pastry bags the most likely to contain them (46 percent of samples). Next highest were pizza and French fry boxes, at 20 percent, followed by juice and milk containers (16 percent). More troubling, many samples touted as containing nonfluorinated alternatives in fact contained fluorinated chemicals.



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