US FDA imposes ban on three chemicals used for paper-based food packaging

5 January 2016 (Last Updated January 5th, 2016 18:30)

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is banning the use of three grease-resistant chemical substances in food packaging over claims that they can lead to cancer and birth defects.

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The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is banning the use of three grease-resistant chemical substances in food packaging over claims that they can lead to cancer and birth defects.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other health and environmental groups had been voicing protests against the use of the chemicals, known as perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), for more than a decade.

Chemical companies in the US have also stopped manufacturing the PFC for around five years now. However, the import of food packaging from other countries are still possible.

"Industrial chemicals that pollute people's blood clearly have no place in food packaging."

PFCs were used as oil and water repellants for paper products, including pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags and sandwich wrappers used to package aqueous and fatty foods.

EWG president Ken Cook said: "Industrial chemicals that pollute people's blood clearly have no place in food packaging.

"But it's taken the FDA more than ten years to figure that out, and it's banning only three chemicals that aren't even made any more.

"This is another egregious example of how, all too often, regulatory actions under the nation's broken chemical laws are too little and too late to protect Americans' health.

"Congress needs to ensure that chemicals that make their way into food, either as deliberate additives or as contaminants from packaging and other outside sources, are thoroughly investigated."


Image: PFCs are used as oil and water repellants for paper-based food packaging products, including microwave popcorn bags. Photo: courtesy of Environmental Working Group.