Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Some kinds of long-lasting chemicals won’t be used in the packaging of food in the United States anymore, according to the FDA

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Some types of grease-resistant chemicals known as PFAS won’t be used in American food packaging anymore, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA found that items like fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and take-out pizza boxes were a big way people were getting exposed to these chemicals, which can mess with hormones and stick around in the body and the environment. This change aims to stop using these substances in materials that touch our food.

People who care about health and the environment were happy about the new announcement. They pointed out that companies were already feeling the pressure from state bans to remove PFAS from things people use, like food packaging.

Dr. Leonardo Trasande, who studies the health effects of PFAS, said, “I really support getting PFAS out of food packaging. It’s a significant amount of exposure that keeps happening.”

According to Melanie Benesh from the Environmental Working Group, twelve states have taken steps to stop or reduce PFAS in food packaging. She said, “This is the result of states working to get PFAS out of the market, especially in food packaging where there are other options that have been around for a long time.”

The American Chemistry Council, a group that represents businesses, said on Wednesday, “PFAS are different chemicals used in many everyday products like electronics, batteries, healthcare stuff, and renewable energy. They’re not all the same, each one has different properties and uses. We support rules based on science for PFAS and will keep working with state and federal leaders on this.”

In 2020, the FDA said that companies making chemicals should stop using certain types of PFAS in food packaging within three years. This decision came after a scientific study found that these chemicals can stay in the body for longer than expected.

“This good news for the health of the public happened because the FDA did some research and showed strong leadership. They worked together with the industry to make it happen,” mentioned Jim Jones, who is in charge of human food at the FDA, in a statement about the achievement.

Now, just because they announced this on Wednesday doesn’t mean the covering of your next fast-food burger won’t have PFAS. The FDA thinks it might take about 18 more months after they stop using these substances for the existing products with PFAS to be used up.

In 2011, a type of chemicals called long-chain PFAS were no longer sold in the US because they were thought to be unsafe. The manufacturers then used short-chain PFAS instead, thinking they were safer. These short-chain PFAS have fewer carbon atoms in them and were believed to be less dangerous than the long-chain ones.

People thought short-chain PFAS wouldn’t stick around in living things like long-chain PFAS do. But studies have found that they can change into forms that stay in tissues.


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