We all know fast food is full of fat and tons of extra calories, but new research from the University of Notre Dame has given us another reason to pass on it–the sheer amount of chemicals in the packaging.

According to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology, fast food wrappers contain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), which are often used in nonstick cookware, firefighting materials and stain-resistant products.

And while this may not be in your food, it is certainly touching it long enough to make its way into what you and your family are consuming.

Researchers say that fast food companies choose these products because they are resistant to oil, water, heat and stains, making it so that the extensive grease in your food doesn’t drip through and ruin your clothes or burn your hands.

Additionally, perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) form such strong bonds that it is difficult for them to break down, meaning they are particularly bad for the environment as well. 

Although at present, researchers are not exactly sure how these chemicals can affect your health, they do know that they can increase your cholesterol level and up your risk of cancer.

Additionally, studies have found that they can show changes in the liver,  thyroid function, pancreatic function and hormone levels in the body. 

Graham Peaslee, a professor of experimental nuclear physics in the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame, who worked on testing the samples for the study, stated:

“This is a really persistent chemical. It gets in the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates. There are diseases that correlate to it, so we really don’t want this class of chemicals out there.”

During this study, researchers at the University of Notre Dame examined packaging from 27 fast food companies, 400 items in all, and found that one third of them contained chemicals.

However, the presence of fluorinated compounds called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) was higher based on certain types of food.

Researchers stated that PFASs were found in 56% of dessert or bread item wrappers, 38% of burger and sandwich wrappers and 20% of paperboard.

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