When you’re grabbing a quick burger or takeout salad, you’re probably focused more on the food than the packaging. But, a new study found that popular fast-food chains may be serving up potentially hazardous chemicals in the wrappers and containers of burgers, fries, and even salads.
Non-profit organization Toxic-Free Future tested for the presence of fluorine, which indicates the packaging was likely treated with PFAS.
“PFAS, per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used to make food packaging grease and water resistant,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Kevin Loria. “They’re often referred to as ‘forever chemicals’ because they’re nearly indestructible.”
Among the packaging that they found was likely treated with PFAS were the cardboard container for McDonald’s Big Mac and the wrapper for Burger King’s whopper, as well as a french fry bag from McDonald’s, a chicken nuggets bag from Burger King and cookie bags from Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
If you’re a fan of food chains known for serving healthful grain and salad bowls, the the findings may be even more concerning. The study found that every single molded fiber bowl or tray tested from Cava, Sweetgreen and Freshii contained some of the highest levels of fluorine in the report.
All three have pledged to make changes. Cava said it will eliminate PFAS in food packaging by mid-2021. Freshii said it plans to roll out PFAS-free bowls in early 2021, if not earlier. Sweetgreen plans to be PFAS-free by the end of this year.
While Burger King and Wendy’s offered no response, McDonald’s said it had eliminated significant classes of PFAS and added, “We know there is more progress to be made across the industry, and we are exploring opportunities with our supplier partners to go further.”