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  • Writer's pictureTimothy P. Smith MS, RD, LDN

In a Major Move, FDA Removes Harmful PFAS From Food Packaging

In a significant step towards safeguarding public health, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just announced the removal of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from food packaging. This step signifies a long overdue decision by health agencies to actively reduce the general population's exposure to harmful chemicals through everyday products.



"PFAS, commonly referred to as "forever chemicals," have been extensively used in various consumer and industrial products, including fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and take-out containers."

The FDA's decision to eliminate PFAS from food packaging is a response to growing concerns over their adverse health effects. Studies have shown that exposure to PFAS-based compounds can disrupt hormonal function, leading to a myriad of health issues such as reproductive disorders, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.


PFAS, commonly referred to as "forever chemicals," have been extensively used in various consumer and industrial products, including fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, and take-out containers.


The FDA's decision comes amidst a broader global concern regarding the adverse effects of EDCs on human health. The Endocrine Society, in collaboration with the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), recently issued a report sounding the alarm about the dangers posed by EDCs, including PFAS. The report, titled "Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Threats to Human Health," provides a comprehensive overview of the latest scientific findings on EDCs and their impact on human health.




"Unlike traditional chemicals, the effects of EDCs cannot be predicted solely based on high-dose exposures, raising concerns about the absence of a safe threshold for exposure."

The report emphasizes the urgent need for policymakers to address this threat to public health by implementing stringent regulations based on current scientific understanding.

The report highlights that EDCs, including PFAS, pose unique challenges due to their ability to disrupt hormonal function even at low doses. Unlike many organic chemicals, the effects of EDCs cannot be predicted solely based on high-dose exposures, raising concerns about the absence of a safe threshold for exposure.


Furthermore, the report underscores that EDCs are omnipresent in modern environments, with exposures occurring through household products, industrial waste, and contaminated food packaging. Urgent action is needed to mitigate these risks and protect public health.


In recent years, there have been significant strides towards addressing the risks associated with EDCs. The 2022 Plastics Treaty, adopted by 175 countries at the United Nations Environmental Assembly, represents a crucial step towards global control of plastics and the elimination of EDC exposures. However, the report emphasizes the need for continued education and awareness-raising among stakeholders to achieve a safer and more sustainable environment.


The FDA's decision to remove PFAS from food packaging represents a commendable effort towards reducing exposure to harmful chemicals. However, many more such decisions (even more obvious than PFAS) are also long overdue to ensure the health and well-being of current and future generations. We still have a lot of work to do.



References:


1. "FDA Announces Removal of Harmful Chemicals from Food Packaging." U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 28 Feb. 2024.


2. Gore, Andrea C., et al. "Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals: Threats to Human Health." Endocrine Society, International Pollutants Elimination Network, 2024.


3. "Endocrine Society Report Urges Action on Endocrine Disruptors." Endocrine Society, 28 Feb. 2024.

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