Takeout containers increase exposure to ‘forever chemicals’

PFAS found in lining of some takeout containers, some non-stick pans

We all know there are a lot of good reasons to eat more fresh food and home-cooked meals. And now, new research indicates we’ve got one more. Scientists have found that restaurant food and takeout meals may be serving up extra helpings of certain toxic chemicals.

PFAS are known as forever chemicals.

“That’s because (the chemicals) essentially never break down naturally. Once they’re made, they accumulate in the environment, ending up in our water supply, our food and in us,” said Keven Loria, health editor for Consumer Reports.

At high levels of exposure, some PFAS chemicals have been linked to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, thyroid disease and growth and learning delays in babies and children.

PFAS chemicals are everywhere, including the surface of some nonstick pans and in the lining of some takeout containers and pizza boxes to keep grease from seeping through.

“We don’t know exactly how much of our individual exposure comes from food packaging. But what the study did show is that people who cooked at home more often had lower levels of PFAS in their blood than those that ate out more frequently,” Loria said.

To limit exposure, Consumer Reports recommends eating more fresh food, and when you do eat out or order takeout, unwrap the food as soon as you can. And don’t store or reheat it in the containers it came in.

The study also cites a notable exception to the cook-at-home rule — microwave popcorn. People who reported eating it often had higher levels of certain PFAS chemicals in their blood.

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