By Fredrica Syren:
As science advances, we know way more than ever before about harmful chemicals and what is harmful to humans, wildlife and the planet. So, it’s never a surprise when we find out new things that contain harmful chemicals that we want to avoid. Take fast-food packaging, for example. We already know fast food is not at the top of the healthy food chain, but most of us do like it from time to time. However, if I said that about a third of fast-food packaging contains highly fluorinated chemicals, also known as PFASs or PFCs, would you still crave fast food? This chemical is water-repellant and stain resistant, and has nonstick properties. It already exists in stain-resistant carpets and furniture, floor waxes and nonstick cookware; and can even be found in slippery dental floss. In a report published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 400 takeout packaging samples from fast food restaurants all over the U.S. were tested. Fluorinated chemicals were found in 46% of the food contact papers and 20% of the paperboard containers.
PFASs or PFCs are known to cause cancer, thyroid disease, fertility issues and many more problems; so, no, it does not belong in our bodies. A majority of people in the U.S. alone have these chemicals in their bodies already and, unfortunately, this will remain so for many years. Children are most affected: because their bodies are still developing, they are more sensitive to chemicals.
On top of this, highly fluorinated chemicals also damage the environment and wildlife because of their frequent use and also because their degradation is very, very slow. They, therefore, remain in the environment, causing harm for millions of years.
Although major companies such as IKEA, Crate and Barrel, and Levi Strauss are phasing out all highly fluorinated chemicals from their products, it’s still very disturbing that chemicals are still allowed in anything (like packaging) that comes into contact with food. We wish for more regulations around this and/or that the fast-food industry would consider doing its part by eliminating packaging containing chemicals.
So, how about it: Would you like a side of toxic chemicals with that burger?