Energy & Environment

Manufacturers to phase out sales of food packaging containing ‘forever’ chemical

a person pushes a grocery cart in a grocery store

Three food manufacturers whose packaging contains a type of PFAS chemical will phase it out from their packaging over the next few years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Friday. 

PFAS is a class of cancer-linked chemicals found in a variety of products. They are sometimes called “forever” chemicals because of their persistence in nature and the human body. 

The voluntary phaseout of the chemical called 6:2 FTOH will start next year and last for three years; however, the manufacturers will take up to an additional 18 months to sell the remaining products whose packaging contains the chemicals, meaning it could remain on store shelves until sometime in 2025. 

Three of the four manufacturers — Archroma, AGC Chemicals Americas and Daikin America — that hold authorizations for the use of 6:2 FTOH will participate in the phaseout. 

The fourth manufacturer, Chemours, told the FDA in 2019 they stopped selling packaging containing the substance. 

The FDA said it will monitor the progress of the phaseout through annual updates done by the manufacturers. The companies will also give the agency samples of the packaging “in case future analysis is needed.”

Some states have already banned the use of food packaging made with PFAS chemicals, citing research that shows they can transfer to food items.

The agency said the move follows an analysis of rodent studies finding “biopersistence” of the specific PFAS including 6:2 FTOH.

“While the findings were in rodents, the data point to the potential that 6:2 FTOH may also persist in humans following dietary exposure,” the FDA said in a statement. “Further scientific studies are needed to better understand the potential human health risks from dietary exposure resulting from authorized food contact substances for short-chain PFAS that contain 6:2 FTOH.”

Last year, a different FDA study that was leaked to The Hill and other news outlets showed that PFAS had been found in milk, meat, produce and store-made chocolate cakes

Researchers found PFAS in 14 of the 91 samples tested, but the samples of meat and chocolate cake had particularly high levels.

That study focused on how food might be impacted after nearby water and soil is contaminated with PFAS.

Following news reports on the study last year, the FDA released a statement saying it did “not have any indication that these substances are a human health concern … at the levels found in this limited sampling.”

However, critics said at the time that the agency was underestimating the risks posed by the chemicals. 

Tags AGC Chemicals Americas Archroma Chemours Daikin America FDA Food and Drug Administration forever chemicals PFAS

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