Health advocates ask the FDA to ban PFAS from food packaging

By Christian Spencer | June 4, 2021

A coalition of almost a dozen organizations wrote a formal petition to the FDA.

Health, environmental and consumer activists have collectively demanded the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ban all polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or “forever chemicals” from food and food packaging.

Called forever chemicals because these compounds, often found in plastic objects, do not break down, there is a rising movement to call out the food industry in particular from enabling harmful toxins to enter the body.

In an email written to Changing America, a petition from almost a dozen organizations have formally challenged the FDA, including the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, and Center For Food Safety.

As Changing America previously reported, PFAS have been found in human breast milk at levels that worry advocates. In a test, all 50 samples of milk had PFAS in them.

“There is extensive PFAS contamination across the US due to widespread use of the chemicals in many industries, in firefighting foam, in household products, food packaging and more,” Environmental Defense Fund, one of the 11 organizations against PFSA in food, wrote to Changing America. “Scientific evidence demonstrating harm to health, particularly children’s health, from the chemicals is overwhelming. This has resulted in an outcry for action on the chemicals often spearheaded by communities that are dealing with contamination – and significant progress at the state-level.”

The other organizations listed are the following: Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, Defend Our Health, Environmental Working Group, Green Science Policy Institute, and League of Conservation Voters.

The petition requests that the FDA ban the use of PFAS in food packaging unless there is evidence that a specific use is safe. The government has 180 days to respond to the petition.

“The FDA has done too little, too late on toxic PFAS. Its actions have fallen far short of what is required by law and run counter to the agency’s own mission of ensuring the safety of our food,”  Environmental Defense Fund’s Chemicals Policy Director Tom Neltner said. “FDA’s own scientists have published studies that found short-chain PFAS can build up in the body and harm our health. It’s time for the FDA to take action.”

“FDA needs to shut the door, permanently, on PFAS in food and food packaging,” scientist and coauthor of the petition Maricel Maffini said. “The agency has a poor track record when it comes to evaluating the safety of these chemicals and taking action. We think it’s past time for the FDA to follow the science and put the public’s health first.”