PFAS is deliberately utilized to make plastic food product packaging

Tom Neltner, director of chemicals policy; Maricel Maffini, specialist; and Tom Bruton from the Green Science Policy Institute

Given That 2002 the FDA has actually authorized using 4 kinds of perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS) in the manufacture of plastic food product packaging, among which was not presented till 2016. The PFAS are allowed in plastics in concentrations of as much as 2000 parts per million (ppm).; Although these levels are lower than those utilized for parchment paper, these levels still pollute food. The PFAS are contributed to make it much easier to make products such as bottles and sleeves. In addition to other technical impacts, they are planned to enhance polymer extrusion, lower deposits on the injection mold and enhance surface area roughness.

EDF has actually submitted under the Liberty of Details Act (FOIA) for 7 food contact alerts (FCNs) that the FDA authorized. From the FDA’s reaction[1], we have actually found out that these PFAS can pollute food if they enter into contact with the product packaging. In one case, the overall quantity of PFAS in the diet plan would be 41 ppb (see pages 31-32 of the FOIA response) – far more than is endured for some PFAS in drinking water.

These plastic processing help, in addition to fluorinated polyethylene, are the current additions to a growing list of sources of “everlasting chemicals” in nutrition. They consist of contamination and greaseproof paper and cardboard as sources that food business should think about in order to keep PFAS out of their items and fulfill customer need for much safer food. Provided the proof, the FDA should move on on our June 2021 resident petition to evaluate the security of PFAS, thinking about the cumulative impacts of these dietary chemicals from lots of sources.

The FDA authorized 7 PFAS applications in plastic from 2002 to 2016

The FDA explains using PFAS in the 7 FCNs as processing help as they serve no function in the last product packaging. Although they just serve to make the food contact post much easier to make, a few of the PFAS will stay in the plastic where they will move into food. The FDA mentions that “the quantity of PFAS utilized as a processing help in the manufacture of other food contact polymers is so little that a minimal quantity of PFAS can be entered food from that usage.”

The following table reveals the allowed quantity of PFAS that can be contributed to plastic in food product packaging and processing devices. They are not “that little” when you think about that they contribute to the levels of PFAS that are currently present in our food, body and the environment.

Approval of compounds in contact with food (FCN) for PFAS utilizes as processing help in plastic food product packaging

FCN no. Food contact compound function of usage Limitation Food concentration
1601 Daikina
( March 2016)
2,3,3,4,4,5,5-heptafluoro-1-pentene polymer with ethene and tetrafluoroethene (CAS Reg. No. 94228-79-2) To enhance homes in the extrusion procedure of all polymers for food product packaging, other than for usage in contact with infant formula and breast milk The FCS is stated to be utilized in concentrations of as much as 2000 ppm in all polymers that enter into contact with all food 9 ppb LMWO *; 0.004 ppb 2,3,3,4,4,5,5-heptafluoro-1-pentene
1560 Arkema
( Sept. 2015)
Vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropene copolymer (CAS Reg. No. 9011-17-0) As a processing help for polymers with food contact, other than for usage in contact with infant formula and breast milk For usage in concentrations not surpassing 2000 ppm in all polymers 2.08 ppb LMWO
1448 Arkema
( August 2014)
Vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropene copolymer (CAS Reg. No. 9011-17-0) As a processing help for polymers with food contact, other than for usage in contact with infant formula and breast milk For usage in concentrations not surpassing 2000 ppm in all polymers 41.6 ppb LMWO
1255 3M
( April 2013)
Vinylidene fluoride-hexafluoropropene copolymer (CAS Reg. No. 9011-17-0) As a processing help in all polymers (other than for polymers utilized in metal and paper finishes) The FCS might be utilized in an optimum quantity of 2000 ppm, based upon the weight of the completed polymer Details has actually been blacked out
1121 3M (January 2012) Tetrafluoroethylene-hexafluoropropylene-vinylidene fluoride copolymers (CAS-Reg.- Nr. 25190-89-0) As a processing help in all polymers (other than for polymers utilized in metal and paper finishes) The FCS can be utilized in polymers with food contact in concentrations as much as 2000 ppm 0.37 ppb LMWO
736 Dyneon/ 3M
( Oct. 2007)
1-propene, 1,1,2,3,3,3-hexafluoro-, polymer with 1,1-difluoroethene (CAS Reg. No. 9011-17-0) customized with a halogenated ethylene as explained in the food contact notice As a processing help for all polymers that enter into contact with food The FCS can be utilized in concentrations as much as 1000 ppm in the completed polymer. 0.4 ppb LMWO
260 Dyneon/ 3M
( Oct. 2002)
Tetrafluoroethylene-hexafluoropropylene-vinylidene fluoride copolymers (CAS Reg. No. 25190-89-0) As a processing additive for polyolefins for usage in contact with food. The FCS can be utilized in quantities as much as 2000 ppm in food grade polyolefin 0.07 ppb LMWO
* LMWO: low molecular weight oligomers. The FDA generally specifies LMWOs as less than 1000 Daltons (a procedure of the molecular weight with hydrogen as one). Nevertheless, it deals with fluorinated substances as an exception, raising the limitation to 2500 Daltons.

FDA underestimates direct exposure and neglects the cumulative impacts of PFAS

For each of the authorized usages, the FDA determined the quantity of PFAS that would be consisted of in a grownup’s diet plan of 3 kgs of food and beverage daily, and approximated worths in between 0.07 and 41.6 ppb. The FDA generally explains this number as a “worst case” price quote, presuming that the PFAS will be utilized in all authorized plastic end-of-line product packaging and will move at the optimum rate. This is not always the case, nevertheless, as the firm has actually neglected the migration of PFAS-containing plastics that are utilized to shop, procedure and transportation the raw products and active ingredients.

In addition, the candidate’s and FDA’s security evaluations appeared to stop working to consider the cumulative impacts of the lots of other associated PFAS, consisting of in food, from deliberate usage in contact with food or contamination. Once again, the FDA has actually not adhered to the law and its regulation, according to which the security of compounds with a comparable toxicological impact need to be examined as a class and not as a private compound. This holds true with almost all of his choices, however it is of specific issue to PFAS as a few of them collect in the body. In September 2020, EDF and others petitioned the firm to upgrade their science to consist of cumulative customer defense effects, as Congress planned.

Processing help are planned usages

The FDA has actually authorized using PFAS as a processing help to help with the manufacture of plastic food contact short articles. The firm evaluates the security of these compounds as deliberate usages, as they are compounds “whose desired usage leads straight or indirectly to or can fairly be anticipated to end up being an element of food” and therefore fulfill the meaning of food ingredients (21 USC § 321 (s)).

Although business declare that PFAS processing help are not included on function, it is clear to the FDA.

Advance to safeguard us from “chemicals permanently”

In 2018, the FDA understood it required to deal with heavy metal contamination “taking a look at all metals in all food, not simply one pollutant, one food at a time” since “[e] Although the levels of metals in an offered food are low, our general direct exposure builds up because a number of the foods we consume include them in percentages. “

Much like heavy metals, there are lots of sources of PFAS contamination, numerous PFAS are discovered in percentages in food, and the overall direct exposure rapidly builds up due to the recognized bioaccumulation of some PFAS which worsens their toxicity and health danger. While the FDA has actually concentrated on ecological PFAS contamination and its usage in paper product packaging, it has actually permitted PFAS-laden plastic to likewise pollute food products without thinking about the cumulative impacts of their dietary direct exposure on human health. It is time for the FDA to take a thorough method to re-evaluate the security of all usages of PFAS as there are no “minimal” direct exposure levels for “permanently chemicals”.

Upgraded August 14, 2021 to fix the variety of licensed PFAS from 3 to 4.

[1] We just release the firm’s toxicology and chemistry memo. Contact the authors for complete FOIAs.

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