FDA, PFAS and Food Packaging

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not the only federal agency that regulates per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). And states aren’t the only ones scrutinizing PFAS in food packaging products. PFAS, which are wholly synthetic compounds of carbon, fluorine and other elements, are manufactured in chains of various lengths. Long-chain PFAS which are generally compounds with eight or more carbon atoms; short-chain PFAS are generally compounds with seven or fewer carbon atoms. Due to PFAS performance characteristics, including water and grease resistance, they are often found in food packaging, especially products made of paper, paperboard, and cardboard.

FDA and Food Packaging

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been active in regulating PFAS in food packaging as well. In 2016, FDA banned the use of two previously authorized PFAS substances as indirect food additives to paper and paperboard food packaging. FDA then facilitated the phaseout of the use of long-chain PFAS in food packaging. In 2020, FDA obtained the commitment from certain short-chain PFAS manufacturers to eliminate their use in food contact applications as well. Now, FDA is considering how PFAS may migrate from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) containers to food and thereby become subject to FDA’s jurisdiction over food additives.

FDA’s current activities concerning PFAS and food are motivated, at least in part, by analytical tests that EPA conducted on nonfood uses of HDPE containers. On March 4, 2021, EPA announced the results of its investigation into the possible source(s) of certain PFAS found in a pesticide product. After rinsing fluorinated and nonfluorinated HDPE containers used to store this pesticide, EPA tested the water used to rinse the containers, also known as rinsate, for certain PFAS. In the rinsate from fluorinated containers, EPA found concentrations of certain PFAS ranging from 20 to 50 parts per billion (ppb). EPA found that the rinsate from the nonfluorinated containers had 1 ppb or less of the same PFAS. EPA concluded that “through the fluorination process of HDPE containers, PFAS compounds may be formed and then partly leach into the products inside the containers.” This resulted in EPA’s March 2022 warning to manufacturers about the risk of PFAS formation in fluorinated polyolefins, as described in Holland & Knight’s previous blog post, “PFAS in Plastic Pesticide Containers: Latest Update,” March 18, 2022.

Author: Holland & Knight

Source: https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/fda-pfas-and-food-packaging-more-to-come-9915305/