Most people, when they make their local fast food order, know what they are getting themselves into. In other words, fast food doesn’t have the greatest reputation when it comes to “being good for your health”. Foods like hamburgers, fries, and chicken nuggets lack valuable nutrients and are high in fat. However, a new study published by the Silent Spring Institute found fluorinated chemicals in over one-third of fast food packaging. Previous studies have shown that chemicals in food packaging can be absorbed by the surrounding contents. Therefore, not only are you eating something that is unhealthy but you are also ingesting a heap of chemicals along with it.
So why do companies use them? Many companies favor this form of packaging because of its grease-repellent properties. According to the study, fluorinated chemicals (PFASs) are used for their “water-repellant, stain-repellant properties. However, these PFOSs have been linked to certain types of kidney and testicular cancer, as well as changes in hormone function.
The type of packaging plays a large role in the potential harm it can cause on an individual’s health. Scientists at five institutions collaborated on a research study that consisted of 400 different samples of fast food packaging from the leading 27 fast food chains in the U.S. Researchers divided the type of packaging into 6 different categories: food contact paper (sandwich wrappers and pastry bags), food contact paperboard (boxes for fries), non-contact paper (outer bags), paper cups, other beverage containers (milk and juice containers), and miscellaneous (lids). The results showed that food contact paper contained the highest amount of fluorine (46%) of all the samples tested. Food contact paperboard came in at a close second with 20% fluorine concentration. Beverage containers contained about 16% and miscellaneous all tested negative for fluorine.