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  • Writer's pictureSophia Wang

Voluntary Market PFAS Phase-Out Complete

Recently, the US Food and Drug Administration has announced that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) aren’t being used anymore in food packaging. Once used as a barrier against oils, greases, and water for packaged foods, they were found to leach into food, causing serious health problems. These ranged from birth defects to cancer to immune system suppression. As packaging gets thrown in landfills or improperly disposed of, PFAS can also make its way into the bloodstream of animals, harming environmental health. One of the most prevalent examples is how PFAS can contaminate the meat of fish, making its way back into humans.

In 2015, the Madrid Statement was signed by 200 scientists, encouraging manufacturers to find less dangerous PFAS alternatives. Food manufacturers gradually began phasing these materials out, with commitments being made to the FDA in 2020. Now, four years later, this voluntary market phase-out for food packaging and paperboard, the main source of exposure to dietary PFAS, has been completed.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t mark the end of overall PFAS exposure. They can still be found in water, clothes, home goods, soil and almost any other thing that might come into contact with the manufacturing industry. To avoid PFAS-contaminated products, try to replace nonstick pans with stainless steel, cast-iron, glass, or ceramic; don’t heat up food wrapped in grease-resistant packaging; make popcorn on the stovetop; find food wrapped in compostable packaging; and limit furniture that is labeled as water- or stain-repellent.

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