What About Chemicals in Food and Packaging?


Tackling gaps in understanding the risks posed by PFAS in food and packaging

Durable chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widely used for oil and moisture resistance in food packaging and in other industrial applications. Regulators and government agencies have recognized that exposure to high concentrations of certain PFAS chemicals may have significant public health impacts.  There are reports of reduced vaccine efficacy, increased “bad” cholesterol, low infant birth weight, and increased risks of high blood pressure. The potential harmful effects of some PFAS — coupled with how long they linger in the environment and the human body — highlights the need to learn more about the chemicals and how we are exposed to them. This knowledge is critical to better inform our understanding of PFAS risks in the food supply.

Although a lot of effort has been devoted to the study of PFAS in the environment, there are significant gaps in our understanding of exposure to PFAS from food and food packaging. In 2020, we held a two-session virtual symposium on the risks posed by PFAS in food and food packaging. The symposium aimed to address current and emerging environmental, consumer exposure, and health concerns of PFAS in the human diet. The symposium also aimed to identify information gaps in understanding PFAS risks in food that could be addressed by our collaborative research model.

The Symposium on Risk Assessment of PFAS in Food was attended by approximately 200 scientists, engineers and regulatory professionals from the government, private sector, academic institutions, and others.  Click here to view presentations.

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Learn more about the work of IAFNS on Food Packaging Safety and Sustainability.