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Environmental and health groups are pushing dozens of fast food companies, supermarkets chains and other retail outlets to remove PFAS chemicals from their packaging. Known as “forever chemicals” for their persistence in the environment, they have been used for decades to prevent grease, water and other liquids from soaking through wrappers, boxes and bags.
Opponents of the practice argue the packaging poses a danger to consumers as well as the environment, since the waste ends up in landfills. in compost or is incinerated where the chemicals can leach into groundwater or soil. They contend there are safer alternatives.
Several groups have maintained that many major brands use packaging with PFAS and that testing at times showed extremely high levels.
A 2017 study by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit research organization Silent Spring Institute found PFAS in almost half of paper wrappers and 20% of boxes from 27 fast food outlets. Tests by Toxic-Free Future in 2018 produced similar results. And, this year, Consumer Reports found eight restaurants, including McDonald’s, Burger King and Cava, had packaging that had more than 100 parts per million of fluorine, which indicates likely presence of PFAS.