In a press release published on April 24, 2020, the non-governmental organization FIDRA announced that is has welcomed comments received from the UK government highlighting the need to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a group. A coalition of stakeholders including actor Mark Ruffalo had sent a letter on February 24, 2020 to UK ministers urging them to restrict the use of PFAS in food packaging (FPF reported). In a response letter sent on April 20, 2020, Rebecca Pow, a government minister from the UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), responded to say the UK government is “working internationally to develop an effective approach to the wider group of substances” beyond the few already addressed by the Stockholm Convention. The agency “agree[s] that exposure to all chemicals from food packaging should be kept to a minimum” and writes that “the number of per-fluorinated chemicals and their diverse range of uses makes this a very challenging issue, but we are better placed than ever before to detect some of these chemicals at low levels in the environment.”

Regarding a regulatory approach, the minister responded to FIDRA via the letter writing that “we agree with you that these substances need to be addressed as a group, rather than on a substance by substance basis, in order to address their impacts effectively and avoid the risk of substitution by alternatives that may have similar properties.” Following the UK’s departure from the EU, the letter explained that the country will set up an independent regulatory chemicals framework called UK REACH where it will continue to make decisions on how to manage the environmental and human health impacts of chemicals.

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PFAS Free (April 24, 2020). “UK Minister agrees PFAS “need to be addressed as a group”.”

DEFRA (April 20, 2020). “Letter to Kerry Dinsmore, FIDRA.” (pdf)

Clelia Oziel (May 7, 2020). “UK acknowledges need for grouping approach to PFASs.” Chemical Watch