On January 14, 2021, the US non-governmental organization (NGO) Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF) reported on McDonald’s announcement to remove the class of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from all of its consumer food packaging materials globally by 2025.
Many petitioners and NGOs, including SCHF through their national Mind the Store campaign, have been calling for this action (FPF reported) after a study had found PFAS in the food packaging of several big fast-food chains including McDonald’s (FPF reported).
PFAS in food packaging are mainly applied to improve an article’s resistance to grease, stains, and water. However, some studies have linked PFAS exposure to negative effects on growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children, in addition to other health effects e.g. causing cancer (FPF reported).
Over the past two years, many retailers have announced steps to reduce or eliminate certain toxic chemicals in food packaging. In December 2020, Amazon announced it will ban the use of 17 food contact chemicals including all PFAS chemicals in their packaging (FPF reported).
Mind the Store Campaign Director Mike Schade stated: “Because McDonald’s is the largest fast-food chain in the world, this action will help drive PFAS out of food packaging.” He further called on “other major fast-food chains like Burger King and Wendy’s [to] join.”
In the US, several states have already passed legislation banning the use of PFAS in food packaging, including Main, Washington, and most recently New York (FPF reported). Regulation on a federal level is also currently being considered, as US Representative Debbie Dingell introduced the Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act, H.R. 2727 in May 2020 (FPF reported).
For more information on other retailer initiatives and commitments, please refer to the Food Packaging Forum’s brand and retailers database.
Leigh Stringer (January 14, 2021). “McDonald’s to phase out PFASs from food contact packaging by 2025.” Chemical Watch
Jeanette Settembre (January 14, 2021). “McDonald’s to remove potentially harmful chemicals in food packaging by 2025.” Fox News
Stephanie Stohler (January 14, 2021). “McDonald’s announces global ban of toxic chemicals in food packaging.” SCHF
McDonald’s (January 2021). “Packaging & Waste.”