FDA, Industry Actions End Sales of PFAS Used in US Food Packaging

The following is attributed to Jim Jones, Deputy Commissioner for Human Foods

Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is announcing that grease-proofing materials containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are no longer being sold for use in food packaging in the U.S. This means the major source of dietary exposure to PFAS from food packaging like fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out paperboard containers and pet food bags is being eliminated.

PFAS are a diverse group of thousands of chemicals that resist grease, oil, water and heat. The FDA has authorized certain PFAS for limited use in cookware, food packaging and food processing equipment. Exposure to some types of PFAS have been linked to serious health effects. The FDA helps to safeguard the food supply by evaluating the use of chemicals as food ingredients and substances that come into contact with food, such as through food packaging, storage or other handling to ensure these uses are safe.

Today’s announcement marks the fulfillment of a voluntary commitment by manufacturers to not sell food contact substances containing certain PFAS intended for use as grease-proofing agents in the U.S. This FDA-led effort represents a positive step forward as we continue to reevaluate chemicals authorized for use with, and in, food. It underscores an important milestone in the protection of U.S. consumers from potentially harmful food-contact chemicals.

This ‘win’ for public health is the result of FDA research and leadership, combined with cooperation from industry. In 2020, the FDA engaged companies to cease sales of grease-proofing substances that contain certain types of PFAS following our post-market safety assessment. The research FDA scientists conducted and published played a large part in helping the agency obtain commitments from manufactures to voluntarily phase out the use of these substances containing PFAS in paper and paperboard food packaging products.

Assessing progress of these efforts takes time. Various parts of the industry are implementing changes and there are lags in data reporting. However, we are encouraged that through collaboration and a shared interest in the health and welfare of the public, together with industry we can achieve positive health outcomes.

The FDA will continue to conduct research and update our evaluations using the most up-to-date science to ensure that our risk determinations continue to be accurate and based on current science. Where appropriate, we will take the steps necessary to protect the health of U.S. consumers as part of our commitment to food chemical safety.

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