Consumer Reports

Some Fast Food Packaging Found to Contain Potentially Hazardous Chemicals

Consumer Reports explains how you can avoid feeding your family so-called “forever chemicals”

NBC Universal, Inc.

Popular fast-food chains may be serving up potentially hazardous chemicals in the packaging of burgers, fries and even salads, according to a new study. Consumer Reports explains how to avoid feeding your family so-called “forever chemicals.”

Healthy eating is good for you, and choosing to grab a bite to eat from restaurants like Sweetgreen or Cava can be a good option. But while the ingredients may be healthy, new testing from Toxic-Free Future found that every molded fiber bowl or tray tested from Cava, Sweetgreen and another chain, Freshii, had some of the highest levels of fluorine found in the report. The presence of fluorine indicates the packaging likely was treated with PFAS.

PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used to make food packaging resistant to grease and water. They’re often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they’re nearly indestructible.

Many have been linked to potentially harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, a weakened immune system response and an increased risk for certain cancers.


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Cava, Freshii, and Sweetgreen have pledged to make changes. Cava says it will eliminate PFAS in food packaging by mid-2021. Freshii plans to roll out PFAS-free bowls in early 2021, if not sooner. And Sweetgreen plans to be PFAS-free by the end of this year.

More traditional fast-food restaurants were also found to be serving some of your favorite guilty pleasures in packaging likely treated with PFAS, like the cardboard container for McDonald’s Big Mac and the wrapper for Burger King’s Whopper.

Other packaging found to contain fluorine included a french fry bag from McDonald’s, a chicken nuggets bag from Burger King, and cookie bags from Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s.

Consumer Reports says Burger King and Wendy’s didn’t respond to a request for comment. McDonald’s said it had eliminated significant classes of PFAS, and added, “We know there is more progress to be made across the industry, and we are exploring opportunities with our supplier partners to go further.”

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