(CONSUMER REPORTS) — Popular fast food chains may be serving up potentially hazardous chemicals in the packaging of your burgers, fries and even salads, according to a new study. Consumer Reports explains how you can avoid feeding your family so-called “forever chemicals.”
Emily Bishop works in Washington, D.C. and often runs out to pick up a quick lunch before heading back to the office.
“Healthy eating is very important to me,” Bishop said.
That’s why she chooses restaurants like Sweetgreen or CAVA.
Bishop said, “I know that it’s healthy. There’s going to be good ingredients that are good for me.”
While the ingredients may be healthy, new testing from Toxic-Free Future found that every single molded fiber bowl or tray tested from CAVA, Sweetgreen, and another chain, Freshii, contained some of the highest levels of fluorine found in the report. The presence of fluorine indicates the packaging was likely treated with PFAS.
“PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used to make food packaging
grease and water resistant. They’re often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’
because they’re nearly indestructible,” said Kevin Loria, Consumer Reports Health Editor.
Many have been linked to potentially harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, weakened immune system response, and increased risk for certain cancers. CAVA, Freshii, and Sweetgreen have pledged to make changes.
Loria said, “CAVA says it will eliminate PFAS in food packaging by mid-2021. Freshii plans to roll out PFAS-free bowls in early 2021, if not sooner. And Sweetgreen plans to be PFAS-free by the end of this year.”
More traditional fast food restaurants were also found to be serving some of your favorite guilty pleasures in packaging likely treated with PFAS, like the cardboard container for McDonald’s Big Mac and the wrapper for Burger King’s Whopper. Other packaging found to contain fluorine include a French fry bag from McDonald’s, a chicken nuggets bag from Burger King, and cookie bags from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s.
Digital Extra: Where else can PFAS be found?