Potentially toxic chemicals found in restaurant to-go packages: report

A new report may make you re-think ordering food to-go.

Potentially toxic PFAS, or forever chemicals, were reportedly located in take-out packaging used by several national restaurant and grocery chains. These chemicals have been linked in some studies to dangerous health conditions.

Over 100 packaging products from 24 national chains were tested for these chemicals, Nation's Restaurant News reports. The testing revealed that half of the chains used one packaging product that had high PFAS levels (more than 100 parts per million).


PFAS are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and were developed in 1938. These chemicals were often used to make various packaging products grease resistant. They have been used to line paper plates, salad bowls and other food containers.

PFAS may also be used on nonstick pans and other items.

These chemicals, however, have recently been linked to an increased risk of some cancers, along with immune system suppression. Food can be contaminated by these chemicals if it comes into contact with material coated with it.

Not all packaging products contained high levels of PFAS, however. The report notes that many to-go options are not sold in packaging that increases the risk of PFAS contamination.

Several national chains have already begun to phase out the use of PFAS materials, including McDonald's, Chipotle, Panera Bread and Whole Foods Market. The parent company of Burger King, Popeyes and several other chains, Restaurant Brands International, has also announced plans to prohibit the use of certain PFAS chemicals in its packaging products. It is possible, however, that supply chain issues could slow down these plans.

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