U.S – To reduce dietary exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from food packaging, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the sale of grease-proofing materials containing PFAS in food packaging within the United States.

This move directly addresses concerns regarding major sources of dietary PFAS exposure, including fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out paperboard containers, and pet food bags.

PFAS, known for their resistance to grease, oil, water, and heat, comprise a vast group of chemicals employed in various consumer products, including certain food packaging.

The FDA has previously authorized specific PFAS for limited applications in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment. However, exposure to some PFAS types has been linked to severe health effects, prompting a reevaluation of their safety in food-related uses.

Last year, a study funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) uncovered a significant link between PFAS found in food packaging and an alarming rise in thyroid cancer cases.

The research, which analyzed plasma samples from 88 thyroid cancer patients and 88 healthy individuals, revealed a 56 percent increase in thyroid cancer diagnosis per doubling of n-PFOS intensity, indicating a strong biological link between PFAS exposure and thyroid cancer.

The FDA’s announcement signifies the successful completion of a voluntary initiative by manufacturers to eliminate the sale of food contact substances containing certain PFAS used as grease-proofing agents in the U.S.

In 2020, the FDA engaged with companies to halt the sale of grease-proofing agents containing specific PFAS types, following post-market safety assessments.

The agency’s scientific research and publications have been instrumental in securing voluntary commitments from manufacturers to phase out these substances in paper and paperboard food packaging products.

While assessing the full impact of these changes will require time due to industry implementation timelines and delays in data reporting, the FDA remains optimistic. The agency emphasizes the importance of collaboration and a shared commitment to public health in achieving significant health outcomes.

The FDA will continue to conduct research and refine its evaluations based on the latest scientific data to ensure accurate and current risk assessments. The agency is prepared to take necessary actions to safeguard U.S. consumers, reaffirming its dedication to food chemical safety.

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