Cancer-linked’ chemicals in Chipotle, Sweetgreen packaging


Cancer-linked’ chemicals in Chipotle, Sweetgreen packaging?

There’s more to know, experts say

Morgan Hines

Everything about your burrito bowl from Chipotle or your salad from Sweetgreen seems earthy and health-conscious, right down to the packaging.

But harmful chemicals may be lurking in those eco-friendly containers.

A story published last week by the New Food Economy, a non-profit newsroom that investigates food-related issues, reported the “cancer-linked” presence of PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” in the fiber bowls used at fast casual dining spots and other restaurants including Chipotle, Sweetgreen, Dig Inn and other locations in New York City.

The chemicals are being investigated by scientists and government officials amid concerns over links to cancer, obesity, reproductive health problems, immunotoxicity and other health problems. PFAS have been used in consumer goods since the 1940s, according to the Food and Drug Administration. They’ve also been found in water.

The methodology used in the report has been questioned by the Foodservice Packaging Institute, a trade group that claims the report’s chemical indicators may not always prove accurate. And Chipotle contended its fiber bowls are safe and compliant with Food and Drug Administration rules in a statement to USA TODAY.

But the potential presence of PFAS is worrisome for health and environmental concerns, according to researchers.

Why ‘forever chemicals’ don’t go away

PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is a family of man-made chemicals that contain carbon-fluorine bonds. The bonds don’t break down easily, which is why PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals.”

They have been used in the production of common goods since the 1940s, according to the FDA.

And PFAS are everywhere: Drinking water, food, cookware, paints, water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products, firefighting foams and more.

Because it doesn’t break down, PFAS remain present in our groundwater, soil and in human and animal bloodstreams, the FDA said in a statement.

While there is evidence that PFAS are present in many other areas of our world, people have had a strong reaction to the news about it being a part of packaging, said Caroline Cox, senior scientist at the Center for Environmental Health.

“I think people are often concerned about contaminants in their food – it’s such a direct exposure,” Cox told USA TODAY…

FINISH UP: ‘Chemicals migrate from the dish into the food’ Cancer, obesity and immunotoxicity are among the problems linked to “forever chemicals” reportedly found in packaging at Chipotle and other restaurants. FDA downplays risk »



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