The tide has turned on relic food franchises that are not adapting to current health and sustainability trends. Ultimately, this is excellent news for consumers in both respects. We are living in a fragile time where the health of humans and the planet is off-kilter, so a change to healthy food options, wrapped in green packaging by these companies is progress. Sadly, on closer inspection, some of the “green” packagings are riddled with “forever chemicals” like per and poly-fluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAS). Some PFAS that have gone through testing have proven to be detrimental to both the planet and humans. The question is, how can these chemicals hide under the guise of ecofriendly containers?
A story published by The New Food Economy listed Chipotle, along with several other restaurants in a report that found PFAS in some or all of their food packaging. Of course, Chipotle did not wave a white flag once the story broke. They issued a statement in USA Today citing that their bowls are compliant within the rules of the FDA. The next question is, who is right, Chipotle and the FDA or The New Food Economy? The answer lies somewhere between based on who you trust. The New Food Economy is a non-profit that researches food and the issues related to consuming, preparation, packaging, etc. On the other hand, the FDA is a government-funded administration that should technically protect civilians from any food or drug-related dangers. An official statement provided by The FDA said, “Based on the best available current science, the FDA does not have any indication that these substances (PFAS) are a human health concern…”
This statement on PFAS is strange because of the lack of research on this family of chemicals. In our previous article on PFAS, we stated that only a handful of the almost 5,000 chemicals in the PFAS family have ever been tested in regards to their safety on humans. Since their introduction into everyday life nearly 80 years ago, PFAS are found in everything from food packaging, cookware, paints and drinking water. Due to their unique molecular structure, PFAS never breakdown and testing has concluded that varying amounts were found in the blood of humans and animals along with groundwater and soil. PFAS are everywhere and now, they are contaminating our food.
While the FDA’s stance seems to defend PFAS, they have been linked to cancer, obesity, reproductive problems and immunotoxicity, to name a few. If there was any question as to whether or not these chemicals were harmful to humans, why would they be so widely distributed, especially in food packaging? Due to the lack of research, it’s almost impossible to determine the magnitude of this problem. This is disturbing enough, not to mention the ramifications that these forever chemicals are having on the environment. Once again, education is vital. It’s no longer enough to monitor what you are eating. You need to be aware of what your food is wrapped in to achieve optimal health and wellness.