PFAS in food contact materials, new overview published

A new scientific article, recently published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology, sheds light on the presence, migration, and hazards of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging and other food contact materials.    

The study synthesizes findings from 47 scientific studies that analyzed PFAS in various food contact articles. Additionally, the article presents a Toxicological Priority Index (ToxPi) score, combining data from multiple sources to illustrate the availability of hazard information and biomonitoring data.    

The research, based on data from the FCCmigex database, identifies 68 different PFAS in migrates or extracts of food contact articles. Notably, paper and board are the most extensively studied materials in this evidence map, accounting for 72.5% of the PFAS-related entries in the database. However, PFAS have also been detected in plastics and coated metals used in food packaging.    

What is particularly concerning is that 61 of these PFAS found in food contact materials are not included in any regulatory or industry inventories of chemicals used during manufacturing processes.

Moreover, the study reveals instances where PFAS have been detected in material types where their use was not indicated (e.g. bisphenol AF, used in rubber, was found in plastics and coated metals). This suggests a lack of transparency and understanding regarding the presence and potential risks associated with PFAS in food contact materials.

Additionally, only 57% of the PFAS identified in the study have been tested for potential hazards in the sources examined, and the available data are often incomplete, highlighting a significant knowledge gap.  

Furthermore, 27 of the PFAS detected in the study have been found in human samples, indicating their presence in the general population. Thirteen of these PFAS were shown to migrate from food contact materials into foods, suggesting a potential source of human exposure to PFAS.    

These findings underscore the complexity of assessing and managing the risks associated with individual PFAS in food contact materials. Considering the well-known hazardous properties and persistence of PFAS, the study emphasizes the urgent need for a group restriction approach, advocating for a complete ban on the use of all PFAS in food contact materials.      



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