McDonald’s food wrappers contain this cancer-causing chemical, says new report – Eat This Not That

We all know that fast food isn’t the healthiest for us, but a new report has revealed that it may not be the best for disease prevention either.

According to a recent Consumer Reports investigation, the packaging used for food at many major fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Burger King and Sweet Green, contains a cancer-causing chemical called PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl. substances.

The same chemical is used to form the nonstick coating on cookware, make fabrics and carpets stain resistant, and create water resistant clothing. Packaging made with PFAS often looks like paper or cardboard, but oils from fatty foods do not penetrate.

Health and environmental advocates are pushing for the use of PFAS to be restricted, especially in food packaging. In response, McDonald’s pledged to end use of the chemical by 2025.

Courtesy of McDonald’s

Related: 8 worst fast food burgers to avoid right now

“Over the past few decades, exposure to PFAS has been linked to a growing list of problems, including immune system suppression, low birth weight, and increased risk of certain cancers,” the report said. “This raises alarms about the use of these compounds, especially in items such as burger wrappers and salad bowls.”

“We know that these substances migrate into the food you eat,” says Justin Boucher, an environmental engineer at the Food Packaging Forum, a nonprofit research organization based in Switzerland. “It’s clear, direct exposure.”

To see how often PFAS are still found in food containers, Consumer Reports (CR) tested more than 100 food packaging from restaurants and grocery store chains. The group found these chemicals in many types of packaging, from paper bags and wraps to single-use paper plates.

“PFAS were found in some packaging from all of the retailers we examined,” the report said.

This included many fast-food chains, such as McDonald’s, as well as Burger King and Chick-fil-A, both of which publicly pledged to reduce PFAS in their packaging after being notified of CR test results.

Chains that promote healthier fare, like Cava and Trader Joe’s, also had packaging containing PFAS, according to CR’s testing.

In any case, it’s a good sign that the fast food giants are refraining from using these chemicals in their products.

“The CDC states that some studies show that exposure to PFAS can affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children, in addition to other health effects,” said Tracy Gregoire, director from the Healthy Children Project of the Learning Disabilities Association of America. “There are safer alternatives to these harmful chemicals forever, and we’re thrilled that McDonald’s is joining a growing number of quick service restaurants.”

To learn more about what’s in your food, check out What is titanium dioxide? And why it’s in your food.