Toxic chemicals found in food wrappers and other US fast food packaging

A new study has found that most fast food packages in the US contain fluorinated substances that could be harmful if they seep into the food.
Fluorinated compounds are used to treat the surface of various paper materials in contact with greasy food and is what gives them their anti-soaking, water and fat-repelling properties.
In this new peer-reviewed study, researchers measured the prevalence of a class of fluorinated chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAss), in 400 fast food packages from 27 restaurants across the US.
After a spectroscopy-based technique and particle accelerator were used to test the containers for fluorine, the findings – reported in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters – revealed that a third of samples came back positive for fluorine.
Although not prove, researchers believe that part of these could, just like phthalates in plastic packaging, migrate directly into the food and expose consumers to their harmful effects.
Research scientist Laurel Schaider told CNN that “the extent of migration depends on the temperature of the food, the type of food and how long the food is in contact with the paper,” suggesting that the sooner the food is taken out of the packaging, the better.
Animal studies have linked fluorinated chemicals to abnormalities in reproductive functions, cancer and immune suppressio, to cite a few.
The level of toxicity of fluorine also varies from one specific type of fluorinated compound to another. Some of them don’t persist for as long in the body, limiting the extent of damage it can cause at any one time.
The amount of fluorine, if any, passing through the food is to be determined, as this study focused on evaluating levels of the compound present in food packaging.
Among samples that tested positive for fluorinated chemicals, 56 percent were from Tex-Mex food packaging and dessert or bread wrappers, 38 percent were for sandwiches and burgers, and 20 percent were in French fries paperboard containers. Paper cups were the only packages to test negative for fluorinated chemicals.
The use of some of the more resistant fluorinated compounds is already partly regulated in the US, and some European countries like Denmark have called to set maximum levels for them in all food packaging.

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