Teflon Chemicals Contaminating New York’s Drinking Water Found in Food Packaging

Chemicals linked to liver damage, developmental toxicity, and cancer found in products in stores with a presence in New York

(Albany, NY – December 11, 2018) Clean and Healthy New York and NGOs from around the country co-released a new report from Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future. The report, entitled Take Out Toxics: PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging, reveals takeout food packaging from several leading U.S. grocery stores is likely treated with harmful PFAS chemicals.

Paper products used for food packaging are often treated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for water and grease resistance. In previous testing, sandwich wrappers, French fry boxes, and bakery bags have all been found to contain the chemicals. PFAS are highly persistent and toxic chemicals whose widespread use has contaminated drinking water across the country.

PFAS in New York:

The results found likely PFAS treatment in 10 of the 78 samples of food contact materials, including products in stores with a presence in New York. The most common items likely treated with PFAS were take-out containers and bakery or deli papers. Two products acquired for testing at Stop & Shop (parent company Ahold Delhaize), as well as 5 products from Whole Foods Market (parent company Amazon) were determined to be likely treated with PFAS. Both Stop & Shop and Whole Foods Market have stores located in New York State.

Clean and Healthy New York supported NY's State Purchasing Specification to end state purchase of single-use food packaging containing PFAS. Now it’s time for grocery stores to take out toxics from food packaging. NYS should act to ban PFAS in food-packaging and foodware, as this report demonstrates, because these harmful chemicals are found in products in stores with a presence throughout the state. When used in food packaging, the chemicals can leach out of the packaging and get into the food, people, compost, and the environment. PFAS has been found in drinking water around New York State, namely in Hoosick Falls, Newburgh, and East Hampton. State and local governments should ban PFAS in food contact materials and ensure safer alternatives are used.

“It’s time for our nation’s leading grocery stores to take the toxics out of their packaging,” said Kathleen Curtis, LPN, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York. “Product manufacturers and retailers should turn off the tap on toxic chemicals and replace them with viable, safer alternatives.”

“Products available to New Yorkers shouldn’t contain harmful chemicals,” said Brad Hoylman, New York State Senator. That’s why I carry legislation (S8576) to ban PFAS in food-packaging and foodware, because people in our state deserve safe drinking water not contaminated by these hidden chemicals.”

“With the enormity of PFOA and other PFAS chemicals discovered in drinking water in Hoosick Falls and around the state, how can we avoid the chemicals when they’re also seeping into our food from toxic packaging?,” said Loreen Hackett, PFOA Project NY, Hoosick Falls resident. “How can we stop the chemical cocktail of PFAS compounds, demonstrated at high levels through blood testing, from harming our communities? Short answer, we can't without passing legislation to get rid of it.”

Full Report:

Take Out Toxics: PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging

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