Fast-food lovers in the United States might be at risk as a new study has revealed that many of the materials that are used to pack short-order food items contain harmful synthetic chemicals.
Led by Laurel Schaider of the Silent Spring Institute, a group of researchers found that paper products that are used to serve fast foods like French fries, fried chicken, burritos, donuts and burgers, may contain synthetic chemicals that resist heat and grease and could be linked to various health risks.
The researchers didn’t determine whether the chemicals called fluorinated chemicals (PFASs) found in the packaging material leach into food; but some previous studies have shown that the chemicals can get into food if it is hot and greasy.
Apart from being used in the fast food industry, fluorinated chemicals are used to give water-repellant and stain-resistant properties to products like furniture, clothing and cosmetics.
The researchers warned, “The most studied of these substances (PFOSs and PFOAs) has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, elevated cholesterol, decreased fertility, thyroid problems and changes in hormone functioning, as well as adverse developmental effects and decreased immune response in children.”
Unfortunately, consumers have no easy way to determine, just by looking at packaging, whether or not it contains harmful chemicals.
The researchers reported their alarming findings in the latest edition of the Environmental Science & Technology Letters.