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PFAS is being banned from food packaging in California

Hamburger and French Fries in Basket Lined With Paper-g87895d500_640PFAS, called a “forever chemical,” is being banned in paper-based food packaging in California under a law signed Tuesday. The new law also requires the disclosure of toxic substances in cookware.

The new California law:

  • Bans paper-based food packaging using PFAS chemicals starting Jan. 1, 2023.
  • Requires cookware manufacturers starting Jan. 1, 2024, to disclose the presence of chemicals in their products that are of concern for human health or the environment.
  • Prohibits misleading advertising on cookware packaging on Jan. 1, 2023.

“Most people don’t realize there are PFAS in everyday items including food packaging,” said Avinash Kar, director of state health policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “PFAS is a massive global public health issue.”

PFAS is widely used in paper-based food packaging made from plant fibers, such as cardboard, for their water and grease resistant properties.

Examples of food packaging that often contain PFAS include paper wraps, liners, bags, sleeves, dinnerware (plates, bowls, and trays), and takeout containers made of molded fiber. 

Chemicals can migrate from the packaging into food, contaminate soil when the packaging is composted, and pose contamination risks for water systems when they’re put in landfills.  

“PFAS chemicals should not be used in materials that touch our food because they persist in the environment and human body, and have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, organ damage, and other severe diseases and can interfere with vaccine response,” said Sue Chiang, pollution prevention director for the Center for Environmental Health. 

The law also requires cookware manufacturers to disclose chemicals of concern, such as PFAS and bisphenol A, or BPA, and other substances on the California’s chemicals of concern list, if they’re added to surfaces that come into contact with food or drink or to handles.

Other organizations that worked on the law are the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action, and the Environmental Working Group.

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