In an article published on March 9, 2017, Niels Søndergaard informs about the results of a new European survey looking at fluorinated substances (also called per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFASs)) in fast food packaging. The survey, covering Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Portugal, was conducted by the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals and partner organizations. High levels of PFASs, indicative of intentional use, were detected in over a third of the 65 packaging items tested in these countries.
Four out of 13 Danish products, including sandwich wrappings, muffin forms, and paper bags for French fries, contained PFASs at levels 600-1,700 times higher than the recommended limit value (0.35 µg of total organic fluorine per dm2) set by the Danish authorities in 2015 (FPF reported). Stine Müller, project manager at THINK Chemicals, noted that the survey showed that the existence of non-binding government recommendation in Denmark did not stop companies from using PFASs in paper packaging, and called for “more than just a recommended limit value if we want to phase out fluorinated substances of food packaging.”
Fluorinated substances, used as grease-proof agents in packaging, are very persistent and known to accumulate in the body and the environment. Some of these substances may harm the immune system (FPF reported), or have been associated with increased risk of miscarriage (FPF reported), cancer (FPF reported), and neurodevelopmental impairment in children (FPF reported). The situation with high levels of fluorinated substances in fast food packaging is not unique to Denmark, as similarly high levels (above the Danish limit value) were found in four other European countries surveyed, as well as in the U.S. (FPF reported).
Niels Søndergaard (March 9, 2017). “Fast food packaging contains unwanted fluorinated substances.” Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals
Chemical Watch (March 10, 2017). “High levels of fluorinated substances found in EU fast food packaging.“