WASHINGTON — A federal campaign to cease the sale of food and pet food packaging containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has ended in success, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The agency announced Feb. 28 that such grease-proofing packaging materials are no longer being sold in the United States.

PFAS have historically been found in a variety of food packaging, including pet food packages, take-out containers, fast-food wrappers and microwaveable popcorn bags, according to the FDA. Intended to lend grease, oil, water and heat resistance to food packaging, this group of chemicals have been connected with adverse health risks. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, these include increased cancer risk, decreased immune system ability, heightened cholesterol or risk of obesity, and natural hormone interference.

“Today’s announcement marks the fulfillment of a voluntary commitment by manufacturers to not sell food contact substances containing certain PFAS intended for use as grease-proofing agents in the United States,” wrote Jim Jones, deputy commissioner for human foods at the FDA. “This FDA-led effort represents a positive step forward as we continue to reevaluate chemicals authorized for use with, and in, food. It underscores an important milestone in the protection of US consumers from potentially harmful food-contact chemicals.”

While PFAS will no longer be found in certain food and pet food packaging materials, the FDA has condoned their use in a few specific applications, including cookware and food processing equipment.

According to the FDA, this latest development is the result of a collaborative effort between the agency and members of the food industry. Over the last 12 months, several packaging material suppliers have developed alternative solutions for the food and pet food industries to facilitate the transition away from PFAS.

“The research FDA scientists conducted and published played a large part in helping the agency obtain commitments from manufactures to voluntarily phase out the use of these substances containing PFAS in paper and paperboard food packaging products,” Jones added.

The FDA will continue to evaluate the industry’s progress in this area, as well as conduct research to inform its ongoing assessment of PFAS and other potentially harmful chemicals in the food and pet food industries.

Read more about packaging solutions and trends for pet food and treats. 

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