The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned 3 carcinogenic chemicals found in pizza boxes, popcorn bags, and other food packaging.

Environmental and public health groups have spoken out against the use of the chemicals for years over concerns of “chemical migration” from packaging to food, but it took 9 petitions to convince the FDA to ban the chemicals in question – perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children’s Environmental Health Network, Environmental Working Group, and Improving Kids’ Environment all petitioned the FDA to ban the chemicals.

PFCs are used in food packaging to repel water and oil from paper and paperboard. The chemicals come into contact with aqueous and fatty foods. [1]

The substances have reportedly been linked to cancer and birth defects. There has been no long-term research on PFCs, but the FDA’s review of data supplied by the petitioning organizations led the agency to conclude that there is “no longer a reasonable certainty of no harm” in the use of the carcinogens.

While this is indeed a recent win, the Environmental Working Group says the new rule is too little, too late.

“Industrial chemicals that pollute people’s blood clearly have no place in food packaging,” the group’s president, Ken Cook, said in a statement. “But 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,” Cook added.

The new rule was posted to the National Registry on January 4 and will go into effect February 1. Diethanolamine salts of mono- and bisphosphates, Pentanoic acid, and Perfluoroalkyl are the 3 chemicals that will be banned under the rule.

In the interim, objections may be filed and a public hearing may be requested.

“The FDA’s ban is an important first step — but just a first step — toward improving the safety of our food supply. Now it should act on our petition to ban the seven other chemicals we believe — and government agencies such as the toxicology program at the National Institutes of Health have found — cause cancer,” said Erik Olsen, director of the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) health program. [2]

This article originally appeared at Natural Society.


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