PFAS in Food Packaging

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, have gained quite a bit of attention in recent years. Commonly referred to as 'forever chemicals,' PFAS are man-made compounds known for their resilience to heat, water, and oil. Because of these properties, they're found in many everyday items, including non-stick cookware, water-resistant clothing, and notably, food packaging. But are they safe? Let's delve into the potential risks associated with PFAS in food packaging and the steps we can take to protect ourselves.

The Role of PFAS in Food Packaging

PFAS in Food Packaging

PFAS are used in food packaging to provide resistance to grease and water, making them particularly useful for packaging:

  • fast food
  • bakery items
  • microwave popcorn
  • and pizza boxes.

These chemicals help prevent food from sticking to the packaging and stop grease from soaking through.

The Safety Concerns of PFAS in Food Packaging

While PFAS have undoubtedly revolutionized food packaging, concerns have emerged about their safety. PFAS don't break down easily in the environment or the human body, meaning they can accumulate over time. Studies have linked high levels of certain PFAS to a range of health problems, including hormonal disruption, immune system issues, and certain types of cancer.

When it comes to food packaging, the concern lies with the potential for PFAS to migrate from the packaging to the food, particularly when the food is hot, greasy, or acidic. Although the extent of this migration and its impact on human health is still under investigation, some researchers suggest that food packaging may be a significant source of PFAS exposure.

What the Research Says

The research on PFAS in food packaging and its health impacts is ongoing, and results have been somewhat mixed. Some studies have found detectable levels of PFAS in people who frequently eat food from PFAS-treated packaging. However, it's unclear exactly how much this contributes to overall PFAS exposure, given these chemicals' presence in other sources like water, air, and soil.

Regardless, given the potential health risks associated with PFAS and their persistence in the environment, many scientists and health advocates argue for a precautionary approach. This means reducing our use and exposure to PFAS, even while research continues.

Why Are PFAS Dangerous?

PFAS (forever chemicals) are incredibly stable compounds, which means they don't break down easily in the environment or in the human body. This durability, while useful for their many applications, is precisely what makes them a concern for human health and the environment. Here's why PFAS are considered dangerous:


PFAS can accumulate in the body over time, with half-lives in humans estimated to be several years. This means that even small, repeated exposures can lead to significant body burdens.

Health Risks

There is evidence that exposure to certain PFAS may lead to adverse health effects. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to high cholesterol, hormone disruption, immune system issues, and increased risk of certain types of cancer like kidney and testicular cancer. There's also evidence suggesting that PFAS exposure may affect the body's natural hormones, fertility, and development in children.

Environmental Persistence

PFAS are not just a problem for human health, but also for the environment. They are extremely resistant to degradation, meaning they persist in the environment for a long time. This leads to contamination of soil, water, and wildlife.

Widespread Exposure

PFAS have been found in the blood of people and animals all over the world. They are ubiquitous in the environment and have been detected in water, soil, and air, leading to widespread human exposure.

Lack of Regulation and Understanding

Despite their widespread use and potential for harm, there is still much that's unknown about the full extent of PFAS health effects, and regulation of these chemicals has been inconsistent. Many scientists and health advocates are pushing for more research and stricter regulation of PFAS.

Given these factors, it's important to take steps to minimize PFAS exposure and to support policies and companies that are working to find safer alternatives to these persistent chemicals.

What You Can Do To Avoid PFAS in Food Packaging

While completely avoiding PFAS might be challenging, there are steps you can take to reduce exposure from food packaging:

Choose Fresh Food

Whenever possible, opt for fresh, unprocessed food over fast food and pre-packaged meals. Not only does this reduce potential PFAS exposure, but it's also generally healthier.

Avoid Microwave Popcorn

Microwave popcorn bags are often lined with PFAS to prevent sticking. Try making popcorn the old-fashioned way on the stovetop.

Limit Takeaway Food

The containers for takeaway or fast food, particularly greasy food, often contain PFAS. Try to limit your consumption of these foods, or ask your favorite restaurant if they use PFAS-free containers.

Look for PFAS-Free Brands

More companies are becoming aware of the PFAS issue and are offering PFAS-free products, including food packaging. Support these brands when you can.

Demand Change

As consumers, we have the power to demand safer products. Let companies and lawmakers know you're concerned about PFAS in food packaging and want stricter regulations.

How Can a PFAS Lawyer Help Me If PFAS in Food Packaging Caused My Illness?

If you suspect that exposure to PFAS in food packaging has led to illness, a lawyer can provide significant assistance. Here's how:

Assessing Your Case

An initial, critical step is understanding if you have a valid legal claim. A class action lawyer, particularly one with expertise in environmental law or product liability, can help evaluate the facts of your case. This includes the nature of your illness, the evidence of exposure to PFAS, and any scientific research that associates PFAS with your type of illness.

Gathering Evidence

In proceeding with a legal claim, your lawyer will assist in gathering and organizing the necessary evidence. This could entail medical records, proof of purchase or use of the food products with the packaging in question, and any other evidence that helps establish the link between your illness and PFAS exposure.

Legal Representation and Counsel

A lawyer will guide you through the legal process, represent your interests in court or during negotiations, and advocate for your rights. They can help you traverse complex legal procedures, ensure you meet all necessary deadlines, and keep you informed of your case's progress.

Determining Damages

If your case is successful, you could be entitled to compensation for various damages, such as medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Your lawyer will help calculate a fair amount based on your circumstances and negotiate with the responsible parties or their insurance companies on your behalf.

Class Action Lawsuits

In some situations, if multiple people have been similarly affected by the same product, it might be advantageous to join or start a class-action PFAS lawsuit. Your lawyer can advise you on whether this is a suitable option for your case.

It's crucial to note that each case is unique. The success of a lawsuit depends on numerous factors, including your specific circumstances, the available evidence, and the current state of the law and scientific research related to PFAS. Thus, if you believe PFAS exposure has harmed you, consulting with a lawyer to understand your legal options is a necessary first step.


While the full extent of the risks associated with PFAS in food packaging is still under study, there's enough evidence to warrant caution. By making mindful choices about the food we eat and where it comes from, we can reduce our exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals. It's not just about protecting our health – it's about safeguarding our environment for generations

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