WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan introduced bipartisan legislation to ban toxic PFAS chemicals – also known as ‘forever chemicals’ – in food wrappers and packaging. PFAS chemicals, which are used in food wrappers to repel grease, oil, and water, are linked to serious health challenges in humans, including cancer.
“Granite Staters shouldn’t have to worry that the food they are eating is wrapped in something that contains dangerous chemicals, but that’s the reality,” Senator Hassan said. “Communities across the Granite State are all too familiar with the dangers of PFAS chemicals, which is why I am working to take aggressive action to eliminate these toxic chemicals wherever they are found. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this commonsense legislation to remove harmful forever chemicals from our food packaging and help protect the public health.”
A 2017 study found that PFAS chemicals were found in more than 50 percent of fast food bread and dessert wrappers. Senator Hassan’s legislation would ban companies from using food packaging materials that contain PFAS chemicals after January 1, 2024.
The Senator’s bipartisan legislation is supported by the Environmental Working Group, Consumer Reports, and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.
“Food is likely a significant source of exposure to these dangerous chemicals for millions of Americans. PFAS in the environment can contaminate crops and accumulate in fish and meat, but it also leaches into food from food packaging. The Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act would quickly cut off a potential major and completely avoidable source of exposure to these forever chemicals,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group.
"Toxic PFAS chemicals should not be a part of your takeout food orders," said Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy for Consumer Reports. "It can seep into the food and contaminate the environment when thrown away. By banning PFAS in food packaging, this bill would protect public health and encourage the use of safer alternatives that are readily available."
“It’s great to see Congress joining retailers and states in acting to end uses of dangerous PFAS chemicals,” said Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a program of Toxic-Free Future. “While most PFAS-treated food packaging is in actual use for a short time, the threat to the environment and public health begins at manufacture and can last forever. When lunch is over, the packaging goes into a landfill, incinerator or compost, creating a long-term source of chemical pollution that makes its way back to people through our drinking water, food, and air. Our lunch should not come with a side of “forever” chemicals. We look forward to working with these Congressional leaders to protect public health by taking PFAS off the menu.”
Senator Hassan is working to address harmful PFAS contamination in a number of ways. The bipartisan infrastructure package that is now law includes a measure authored by Senator Hassan to better ensure that more New Hampshire towns would be eligible for an advanced technology grant program that can be used to remove PFAS from drinking water. Additionally, the December COVID-19 relief and government funding bill that Senator Hassan helped negotiate and pass into law included nearly $300 million in funding to address PFAS, including $15 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nationwide PFAS study. Senator Hassan also joined in introducing a bill ban the inclusion of PFAS chemicals in cosmetics products, such as makeup, moisturizer and perfume. Additionally, in 2018, Senator Hassan participated in the first-ever Senate hearing on PFAS contamination in drinking water sources.
Bill text for the bipartisan Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act can be found here.