Dangerous Chemicals in Fast Food Packaging | Health Blog

Fast Food Packaging Worries

Dangerous Chemicals in Fast Food Packaging | Health Blog

Chances are good that if you’re a reader of this website, you don’t eat fast food on a regular basis. But nobody’s perfect. Perhaps, every now and then—when you need a little extra convenience or really get a craving—you might indulge a little. And if you’ve got kids, let’s face it, sometimes it’s just much easier to bring dinner home in a bag or a pizza box rather than cook in between all the rushing around—especially when they demand it. Then again, you might want to rethink some of those decisions. As if the fast food itself isn’t bad enough for your health, new research suggests that the packaging it comes in might be harmful as well.

The study, which took place at the Silent Spring Institute in Newton, Massachusetts, found that the wrappers and boxes in which fast food is typically served are often sources of dangerous chemicals that can leach into your food.1 Schaider, Laurel A.; et al. “Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 1 February 2017. Accessed 8 February 2017. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00435. More than 400 packaging samples were obtained from restaurants across the United States. An analysis of the material showed that 46 percent of the paper wrappers and 20 percent of the paperboard boxes contained fluorine.

Fluorine is a compound used in a number of chemicals including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) which were added to fabrics, carpeting, furniture, and more for many years to increase their stain resistance, and cookware to make it non-stick. While American manufacturers began to phase them out as of 2011, some countries have not. And clearly, from the results of this study, they are still being used in fast food packaging due to their ability to limit the spread of the grease from the food.

So your sack of chicken nuggets and French fries may not stain your shirt or the seat of your car, but the problem is that these chemicals are absorbed into our bodies. We are exposed to them regularly, as we breathe them in our air and drink them in our water. They also leach into our food through contact with these wrappings and boxes.

Fluorinated chemicals have been detected in blood samples of approximately 98 percent of adults and children, and even in umbilical cords. They have been linked to such conditions as kidney cancer, testicular cancer, thyroid disease, fertility problems, arthritis, and immune system disorders. Plus, these toxins are known to remain in our bodies for several years. Needless to say, it seems pretty obvious that we now have one more excellent reason for eliminating fast food from our diets, as well as one more excellent reason for regularly detoxing.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying you’ll only have fast food every once in a while. After all, it’s so convenient, with drive-throughs practically on every corner and pizza places that deliver dinner to your doorstep. But you’ve just got to think ahead so you won’t have to fight the urge to give in.

If your issue is a certain night or two of the week that you’re extra busy and don’t have time to cook, make a plan. You can cook a double batch of food the evening before and have leftovers ready. Or buy easy-to-prepare items you can throw together for a quick meal that’s still nutritious such as a salad with veggies, nuts, and hard-boiled eggs or wraps with strips of vegetables and chicken. For those nights when you think you’ll be too hungry to wait until you get home, keep a baggie of homemade trail mix in your car to get you over the hump.

If, on the other hand, you opt for fast food sometimes because you just love the taste of it, try to make healthier versions of your favorites at home. You can make pizza with a whole-grain dough or cauliflower crust, fresh veggies as tasty toppings, and keep the mozzarella to a minimum. If it’s a burger and fries you crave, make a turkey or chicken burger using organic meat. It may not offer the same greasy consistency as a fast food beef burger, but if you top it off with onion slices, lettuce, and tomato, you’ll still enjoy plenty of flavor. And you can slice up sweet potatoes, season them with paprika or a little cayenne pepper, and bake them for a lower-calorie, more nutritious side dish.

And if after everything you’ve read, you still end up indulging, then don’t forget to regularly detox.



1 Schaider, Laurel A.; et al. “Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters. 1 February 2017. Accessed 8 February 2017. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00435.