So the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just released the findings of its own study of the presence of toxic industrial chemical PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalykyl substances) in food and found that it is, as numerous independent university and research institute studies have reported, leaching into the U.S. food supply:
Toxic chemical PFAS in the food and water supply
The levels in nearly half of the meat and fish the FDA tested were double or more the only currently existing federal advisory level for any kind of the widely used manmade PFAS compounds.
The level in packaged chocolate cake was higher: more than 250 times the only federal guidelines, which are for some PFAS in drinking water.
PFOS, an older form of PFAS no longer made in the U.S. but still present in food, water and the environment, turned up at levels ranging from 134 parts per trillion to 865 parts per trillion in tilapia, chicken, turkey, beef, cod, salmon, shrimp, lamb, catfish and hot dogs. Prepared chocolate cake tested at 17,640 parts per trillion of a kind of PFAS called PFPeA.
The FDA presentation also included what appeared to be previously unreported findings of PFAS levels — one spiking over 1,000 parts per trillion — in leafy green vegetables grown within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of an unspecified eastern U.S. PFAS plant and sold at a farmer’s market.
It also previewed test levels for a previously reported instance of PFAS contamination of the food supply, in the feed and milk at a dairy near an Air Force base in New Mexico.
The FDA said the contamination in that milk was a health concern. It said it would release detailed data on that soon.
What are the health consequences of this chemical in the human body?
PFAS has been dubbed a ‘forever chemical’ because it accumulates in the human body and is predicted to take thousands of years to degrade. The federal toxicology review last year concluded the compounds are more dangerous than previously thought, saying consistent studies of exposed people suggest associations with some kinds of cancers (including breast and prostate cancers), liver problems, low birth weight and numerous other health problems including thyroid problems, kidney problems, prostate problems and fertility problems.
Where is the chemical compound used?
PFAS is an industrial chemical created by DuPont in 1938 and used for a variety of consumer products including nonstick cookware. It now exists in an estimated 5,000 varieties. Industries use the product to keep grease, water and stains off countless consumer items, including in food packaging, carpets and couches, dental floss and outdoor gear. It has also been used in firefighting foam where decades of use of this chemical compound have built up levels in water, soil and some treated sewage sludge used to fertilize non-organic food crops and feed for livestock.
Other points of interest
-The FDA in 2015 and 2016 revoked approval for some older versions of PFAS in food packaging, although it was one of those versions that was found in high levels in its testing of meat and seafood.
-In its statement, the FDA noted studies suggesting newer forms of the chemical may also pose a health risk. (See our report of scientific findings on this here.) It said it was working with other federal agencies to determine appropriate next steps.
See other CFL posts on PFAS (PFOS/PFOA) scientific findings: