The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is banning three chemicals often found in food packaging such as pizza boxes and microwaveable popcorn bags. The agency is officially forbidding the use of three perflourinated chemicals, which are used to protect the packaging from being soaked with oil or water. Exposure to these chemicals has been linked to cancer and birth defects. The rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 4, and became effective that day.
“Although it appears that manufacturers generally have stopped using these products [chemicals], FDA’s action means that any continued use of the perfluorinated chemicals covered by the regulation is no longer permitted,” the FDA stated.
A report published by the Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs suggests that there has been evidence of these chemicals’ toxicity for over ten years and many companies have already stopped producing them. Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook criticized the FDA for its late action. “Industrial chemicals that pollute people’s blood clearly have no place in food packaging,” Cook said, according to Bloomberg BNA. “It’s taken the FDA more than 10 years to figure that out, and it’s banning only three chemicals that aren’t even made any more.
“This is another egregious example of how, all too often, regulatory actions under the nation’s broken chemical laws are too little and too late to protect Americans’ health. Congress needs to ensure that chemicals that make their way into food, either as deliberate additives or as contaminants from packaging and other outside sources, are thoroughly investigated,” said Cook.