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FDA Rules Change Would Ban Chemicals Used in Pizza Boxes

Jan 13, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced plans to publish a final rule banning three chemicals used in many pizza boxes and other food packaging.

The proposed rule comes in response to a petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children's Environmental Health Network, Environmental Working Group, and Improving Kids' Environment, Food Safety News reports. The proposal would ban three specific types of perfluoroalkyl ethyl.

Perfluoroalkyl ethyl is used in food contact substances (FCSs) and these chemicals act as oil and water repellants for paper and paperboard that comes in contact with wet and fatty foods. The agency says "there is no longer a reasonable uncertainty of no harm from the food contact use" of the substances. The FDA points to the biopersistence, or the accumulation of the chemicals the body isn't able to remove completely, according to CBS News. The petition cites the potential reproductive and developmental risk described by the FDA in a 2010 review.

The approval process allows for the filing of objections and the demand for a public hearing. The final rule would take effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Erik Olson, director of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) health program, praised the FDA action and cited the potential for safer pizza boxes and similar food packaging. "The FDA's ban is an important first step — but just a first step — toward improving the safety of our food supply," Food Safety News reports. But, Olson continued, the FDA should act on the NRDC petition to ban seven other chemicals believed to cause cancer. Olson says government agencies such as the toxicology program at the National Institutes of Health have found that these chemicals cause cancer, according to Food Safety News.

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