On June 3, 2021, a coalition of NGOs in the United States including the Environmental Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and the League of Conservation Voters, sent a petition to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calling on the agency to ban “all long- and short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as food contact substances” and to, unless evidence exists otherwise, systematically reassess previous positions based on a presumption that all per- and polyfluorinated compounds bio-persist in the human body.
The FDA began phasing out long-chain PFAS in food packaging in 2012 but continued to allow short-chain PFAS due to initial research that they were safer. However, in May, The Guardian reported that companies such as DuPont and Daikin lied about the safety of short-chain PFAS to the FDA, purportedly hiding research “that suggested toxicity to lab animals’ livers and kidneys at low exposure levels.” Evidence is mounting that PFAS are linked to a wide array of negative health outcomes and environmental contamination (FPF reported, also here and here).
PFAS has most often been added to paper and other plant-fiber food packaging to make them water and grease resistant. The US states of Maine, Washington, Vermont, and New York are limiting the use of PFAS in food packaging within their jurisdictions, but there is no comprehensive federal PFAS regulation (FPF reported here and here). US Representative Debbie Dingell from the State of Michigan hopes to change that by introducing federal legislation within the next few weeks to ban PFAS in food packaging in the United States. If she does, this will be her second attempt to pass federal PFAS legislation.
Food Packaging Forum, 3 June 2021