PFAS are found in a number of products used every day in the food industry. These chemicals serve a number of purposes, such as preventing grease from seeping through containers and ingredients from sticking onto cookware. However, PFAS are dangerous because they're highly toxic and never break down in the environment. This informative guide provides you with details on what PFAS are and how they're affecting the industry.

What Are PFAS Chemicals?

"What are PFAS chemicals?" is a question many individuals in the food industry are asking each other because they're learning that a lot of packaging products are crafted with these chemicals. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of highly toxic man-made chemicals that are made up of a chain of linked carbon and fluorine atoms. They have been used in the foodservice industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s because these chemicals are resistant to:

  • Grease
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Heat
  • Corrosion
  • Stains

Why Are PFAS Dangerous?

PFAS are also known as "forever chemicals" because they're extremely strong and don't degrade in the environment. Forever chemicals migrate into our food chain and contaminate water sources which also makes them harmful to human health. Studies have shown that PFAS affect different systems in the body and may:

  • Increase cholesterol levels
  • Cause immune system disorders
  • Increase the risk of cancer
  • Interfere with the body's natural hormones

How Does The Foodservice Industry Expose Customers To PFAS?

 

There are a number of foodservice establishments around the world that use products with PFAS. That is because forever chemicals allow greasy foods to maintain their shape in baking cups or prevent dishes from sticking to food liners. These substances can be found in a variety of products, such as:

  • Take out containers
  • Food liners
  • Disposable tableware
  • Baking supplies and bakeware
  • Pots, pans, and other cookware

When any food or beverage makes contact with products that have forever chemicals, they become contaminated. Patrons are exposed to PFAS once they take a sip of lemonade or bite a sandwich that was prepared or packaged with products made with these substances. That is why studies show that 95 percent of the U.S. population has been exposed to PFAS and have measurable concentrations in their blood, according to the National Ground Water Association.

Can PFAS Contaminate Food Crops & Water?

When someone throws away a product constructed with PFAS, it breaks down into mobile compounds that can contaminate the soil and move into food crops and groundwater. This affects fruits, vegetables, and public water systems which has a major impact on the food industry. Food crops are used on a daily basis to prepare dishes and many restaurants use the public water systems to serve customers beverages.

How Can Business Owners Keep Their Establishments Free Of PFAS?

Many business owners find it difficult to keep their establishment free of items that possess PFAS. This is because they use a variety of products to package or prepare meals with forever chemicals and aren't sure how to properly get rid of these items.

When looking to free your business from PFAS, it's important to find out which products are treated with forever chemicals. If you're not sure if an item was made with PFAS, simply ask your suppliers.

It's also crucial to set clear and realistic timeframes to eliminate all food contact materials made with harmful substances. For example, if you discover that all of your disposable items are crafted with PFAS, giving yourself 24 hours to properly dispose of these products and finding eco-friendly alternatives is unrealistic. Instead, give yourself a few months so you can do proper research to find the perfect supplies for your establishment.

Say No To PFAS

Products with PFAS are resistant to heat, water, oil, and more which is why they've been used in establishments around the world for many years. However, businesses are learning that these products have a negative impact on the environment and human health. That is why many locations are no longer using products with PFAS and are looking for eco-friendly alternatives that provide them with the same benefits.