Friday, June 4, 2021

On June 3, 2021, a group of NGOs sent a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking the agency to ban “all long- and short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as food contact substances” and to, unless evidence exists otherwise, reassess previous positions issued by the FDA on PFAS in food packaging.

The call for an FDA ban on PFAS in food packaging is significant and will have direct impacts on numerous companies, including paper mills and food packaging manufacturers. The petition follows in the footsteps of several legislative steps at the state level, which has resulted in a few states banning PFAS from food packaging.

This development lends support to the opinion we have put forth previously that food packaging companies are one of the top three targets of PFAS products liability related issues.

What Are PFAS and Why Are They a Concern?

Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) are a class of over 7,000 manmade compounds. Chemists at 3M and Dupont developed the initial PFAS chemicals by accident in the 1930s when researching carbon-based chemical reactions. During one such experiment, an unusual coating remained in the testing chamber, which upon further testing was completely resistant to any methods designed to break apart the atoms within the chemical.

The material also had the incredible ability to repel oil and water. Dupont later called this substance PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), the first PFAS ever invented. After World War II, Dupont commercialized PFOA into the revolutionary product that the company branded “Teflon.”