Working to Create Toxic-Free Fast-Food Packaging

Consumers are growing more health-conscious and are demanding healthier options from restaurants and food producers. For a restaurant, that can mean changing portion sizes, developing lower-calorie dishes, sourcing fresher foods, and evaluating their food-contact packaging.

Paper product manufacturers have used fluorinated compounds to create grease barriers. These compounds work well for this application because they are heat-resistant and have a long half-life; they don’t break down quickly. This barrier keeps the grease from your burger, pizza, taco, or fries from staining your car seat. But, fluorinated substances have a dark side. They are harmful to human health.

It’s the “Forever Chemical”

Studies have shown that consumption of fluorinated compounds, like per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are found in food-contact packaging, can lead to cancer, low birth-weight, obesity, and immune suppression. These compounds readily transfer from the paper into the food and hang around for a long time in our bloodstreams. They’ve rightfully earned the nickname “forever chemicals.”

Governments are taking action

Because of these risks, beginning in July 2020, Denmark will ban the use of fluorinated compounds in food-contact paper and paperboard products. America is taking action, too. The House of Representatives passed H.R. 535, which prohibits certain PFAS substances and gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power to review and regulate other PFAS-class compounds; there are over 4,000. The legislation is expected to go before the Senate later in 2020. The EPA has a great infographic explaining all the ins-and-outs of fluorinated substances.

Consumer and media attention

Public interest in fluorinated compounds is rising. The media’s attention is growing, as well, running stories like this one: PFAS chemicals in take-out food containers pose health risks according to experts. Imagine a story like that running about your restaurant. It’s probably not good for sales. We can turn to a founding father for advice. Benjamin Franklin said in 1736 to Philadelphians fearing fire, that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Choosing food-contact paper products that have no added fluoridated substances is easier than challenging the growing body of scientific consensus and public opinion.

Here’s what you can do

At Greif, we are committed to helping you deliver healthy, safe food to your customers. We can stand behind that statement because we don’t use fluorinated compounds in our paperboard manufacturing process, plain and simple. According to the Cancer Free Environment Network, the best way to reduce the spread and growth of these toxins is to stop producing them. Given the long life and durability of PFAS compounds, they are “forever chemicals”, we can’t guarantee that our post-consumer paperboard is free of the toxins. We can, however, guarantee that we do not accept any post-consumer content with known PFAS coatings and will never use them in our manufacturing process. 

Choosing LA Paper Box means you’re putting the health and safety of your customers first. Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you work towards a toxic-free food future.