Cancer Causing Ingredients in Your Food Wrappers?
We all occasionally get fast food, even if its ‘healthy’ fast food. However, recent findings show the packaging that is used for ‘to go’ food is often laced with dangerous chemicals. Chemical compounds called PFC’s and PFA’s are used in food wrappers to prevent grease and liquids from the foods from leaking out. Unfortunately, because of the heat and grease, these chemicals can also easily leach into your food.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) supports a new peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, which shows test samples of some food wrappers contain the same notorious chemical used in Teflon. Scientists from several prominent organizations, including federal and state regulatory agencies, and research institutions, collaborated recently to test sandwich wrappers, French fry bags, pizza boxes, and other food packaging products from 27 different fast food chains and restaurants. Of the 327 samples, 40% tested positive for evidence of these PFC’s or PFA’s. (*See list of worst offenders at end of article.)
PFC’s or poly-fluorochemicals come from a family of chemicals used in Teflon pans and other water, grease, or stain-repellant coatings like Scotchguard. While some of these chemicals have actually been banned because of their toxicity, there are new breeds of PFC’s now being used in many types of consumer products that are not well-tested yet.
Perfluorinated chemicals such as PFC’s and PFA’s have been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, developmental issues, abnormal thyroid levels, reproductive defects, immune system deficiencies, and other serious health issues. Even DuPont (maker of PFC’s) has acknowledged that some of these newer generation chemicals can cause cancerous tumors in animals, and children are even more vulnerable to these toxic chemicals leaching into food from the wrappers. Says Graham Peaslee of University of Notre Dame:
“These molecules are very long-lived in the environment and simply don’t break down easily or go away. Consumer products like papers that are being treated with PFA’s will decompose long before the treatment does and these chemicals will enter the environment directly from our landfills. This type of long-lived chemical just isn’t a sustainable practice; once it is made, it doesn’t go away.”
The Environmental Working Group recommendations include:
- Fast food companies to stop using PFC’s or other related compounds in their food wrappers.
- The FDA needs to close a loophole that allows companies to self-certify chemicals as “Generally Recognized as Safe”.
- Avoid or limit your exposure to fast food wrappers, and remove wrapper as quickly as possible to limit the exposure to the chemicals.
- Avoid paper plates, and other paper dishes.
- Avoid microwave popcorn.
- Avoid non-stick dental floss
Obviously, fast food is not healthy in general and is usually processed with chemical additives, preservatives, artificial flavors and dyes, and often has genetically modified ingredients–as well as industrially raised ‘mystery meat’ loaded with chemicals and antibiotics. So here is just one more reason to avoid fast food!
*The study found desserts, bread and Mexican foods were often the most exposed to these chemicals and 100% of the samples from Jimmy John’s, Quiznos and Taco Time contained PFC’s or PFA’s. Rounding out the list of worst offenders for testing positive for these ingredients includes: Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Starbucks, Steak-n-Shake, Church’s Chicken, and Krispy Kreme.