USA – The US Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) has passed a bipartisan amendment to ban the use of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals in food packaging.
The “forever chemicals” are commonly used in paper packaging as water-repellent and grease-proofing treatments but have been linked to a wide range of health issues, including a weakened immune system.
The committee voted 13-9 in favor of the Keep Food Containers Safe From PFAS Act, which passed as an amendment to the FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements Act of 2022.
“The bill next goes to the Senate floor for a vote and will be conferenced with the House version of the bill before it is signed into law. We hope that both chambers will act quickly,” said Liz Hitchcock, Director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
“The best way to stop PFAS from contaminating drinking water, breast milk, wildlife, and people is to end its use in everyday products like food packaging.”
Currently, state governments are taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS. Nine states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington) have enacted state bans on PFAS in food packaging.
To support the initiative retailers are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to reduce or eliminate PFAS in crucial product sectors, according to the annual Retailer Report Card published by Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program.
In response to Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program, 22 retailers selling food or food packaging have announced steps to reduce or eliminate PFAS in food packaging at more than 140,000 stores worldwide, including Burger King, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, and other major retailers.
“Fast-food giants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Starbucks are already banning PFAS, so the marketplace is moving,” says Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store.
“The federal government must level the playing field to ensure all Americans are protected from these forever chemicals.”
PFAS chemicals are not known to break down in the environment and can easily move through the soil to drinking water.
A 2020 report by Toxic-Free Future found major fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s likely serve up toxic PFAS with some of their most popular takeout foods.
A 2018 report also indicated the presence of PFAS in food packaging at top grocery store chains.
In addition, Toxic-Free Future’s 2021 investigative report revealed that a PFAS manufacturing facility is a significant source of PFAS pollution and ozone-depleting chemicals that contribute to health problems and climate change.
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