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Investigation claims dangerous chemicals present in some fast food packaging

Consumer Reports tests fast-food wrappers
French Fries
Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 07:11:01-04

When you grab fast food, the last thing you're thinking about is the paper wrapper.

"I've always been told that styrofoam is worse than paper. But I really don't know," lunchtime customer Ryan Harper told us outside a fast-food restaurant.

But it was surprising to learn that Consumer Reports has just sounded the alarm about some fast-food packaging.

In a report called Dangerous PFAS Chemicals Are in Your Food Packaging, the non-profit advocacy group says PFAS, sometimes known as "forever chemicals," are in some of the grease and water-resistant wrappers and fiber bowls used by many fast-food restaurants.

Consumer Reports says the chemicals have been linked to immune system suppression and even cancer.

Brian Ronholm of Consumer Reports said "of the products we tested, of the 118 products, 37 of them had levels above 25 parts per million. Those are pretty troubling readings if you take a step back. When you get above 20 parts per million, that's when you start worrying about the levels."

You can read their full investigation here.

How to protect yourself

So what can you do to protect your family when you get takeout burgers, fries, chicken, maybe cookies, and you are not sure exactly what's in that packaging? Ronholm says your best bet is to "take them out of the wrapper as quickly as possible and put them on a plate at home."

And the most important thing, he says, is to never microwave fast food in its wrapper.

Companies promise changes

Following Consumer Reports' investigation, McDonald's, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A all went to social media, promising to phase out PFAS in the next few years. Arby's, in the meantime, sent us a statement saying they will phase them out by the end of 2022.

Ronholm says that is good news, as "they don't break down in the environment, and they stay in our bodies for a really long time."

So don't assume that wrapper is just paper, so you stay safe and don't waste your money.

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