Hold the Pepperoni and the Toxic PFASs: Three Less Toxic Chemicals In Our Pizza Boxes Following FDA Ban

As our understanding of poly- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) grows, so too has the public and scientific discourse around whether we want to continue to be surrounded by them on a daily basis in our furniture, electronics, and clothing. They have been linked to health concerns such as increased risk of cancer, hypothyroidism, birth defects, and obesity. Entering 2016, another use is getting much attention as well - food packaging.

Known as “indirect food additives,” PFASs are applied to packaging such as pizza boxes where there is a need for water and grease repellents. Following a 2014 petition filed by nine environmental and health organizations, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has amended their regulations regarding the use of PFASs as a component of paper and paperboard in contact with aqueous and fatty foods. The FDA ruling states that “new data are available as to the toxicity of substances structurally similar to these compounds that demonstrate there is no longer a reasonable certainty of no harm from the food-contact use of these FCSs.”

While this is an important first step, Newsweek reports that the petitioners plan to file another motion to have seven additional PFASs banned from food packaging that have been found to be carcinogenic.

Although the three banned chemicals are no longer manufactured in the United States due to an agreement made between the EPA and chemical companies including DuPont and 3M, under FDA rule they have been able to be imported into the country and used in food packaging. This is another example of our flawed chemical regulations and why Health Care Without Harm is advocating for much a needed comprehensive U.S. legislation reform addressing the use of PFASs and other chemicals.

[Source: Environmental Working Group]