Dingell, Young Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Ban PFAS in Food Containers
Washington, November 18, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) introduced the bipartisan Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act, which would prohibit intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – or hazardous forever chemicals – in food packaging. Senators Hassan and Murkowski introduced the companion legislation in the Senate.
“Whether you’re getting takeout from your favorite restaurant or opening a popcorn bag, you shouldn’t have to worry about chemicals seeping from containers into your food,” said Dingell. “PFAS chemicals are in products that we use every single day, and most Americans don’t even know the danger they face daily. Over 12 states have policies limiting the use of PFAS in containers, now we need strong federal legislation to ensure hazardous chemicals are not allowed near the food we eat.”
PFAS is often talked about in relation to contaminating ground water and the environment, but these harmful substances are frequently used to greaseproof, waterproof, and give nonstick properties to food containers, cookware, and consumer products. And it has been proven that the PFAS in those containers can contaminate the food, causing liver disease, thyroid dysfunction, and several forms of cancer. The Environmental Working Group found that as many as 40 percent of fast food wrappers and paper products tested positive for fluorine chemicals.
“There is significant scientific evidence that PFAS chemicals pose a real risk to communities in Alaska and across the country. I have been a long-time advocate for measures to combat exposures to these chemicals, which can cause liver disease, thyroid issues, and several types of cancer,” said Young. “I am proud to join my dear friend, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, in the introduction of our bipartisan Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we live, and many of us have been ordering more takeout than ever. Whether it is to-go containers, chip wrappers, or other food packages, we should be doing all we can to keep these dangerous chemicals out of food packaging. Eliminating toxic PFAS chemicals continues to be one of my highest priorities in Congress. I call on my friends on both sides of the aisle to join us in this vital cause.”
“Food is likely a significant source of exposure to these dangerous chemicals for millions of Americans,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. “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.”
“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.”
Dingell has been a strong advocate in the fight against PFAS. Her bipartisan PFAS Action Act, which she introduced with Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), passed the House in July of 2021. She also introduced both the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act and Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act.To view the full bill text, please click here.