Bans of perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging gain traction: Get ready with PFAS testing
14 January 2022
Danielle Cawdron, Section Manager
Governments around the world are currently trying to remove PFAS from the food supply, as well as the environment. A
patchwork of new legislations in recent years have banned packaging products with PFAS with increased pressure on manufacturers to provide
safe alternatives. In Europe, Denmark became the first country to ban PFAS in packaging in July 2020. Many other European nations are
proposing a joint REACH restriction to limit their manufacture and around the world, NGOs are asking for a prohibition on PFAS in food
The call for a ban on PFAS in food packaging is so significant that already the fast-food chain
McDonalds and online retailer
Amazon have announced their
commitment to phase out PFAS in food packaging. With a direct impact on numerous companies, including paper mills and food packaging
manufacturers, it is now only a matter of time before others follow suit.
So, what are PFAS and why are they a concern?
PFAS, also called per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, are part of a class of about 9,000 fluorinated compounds. Due
to their structure and properties, PFAS are widely used as they provide a non-stick barrier to fat and water. The compounds are therefore
found in takeaway food packaging, microwavable bags, kitchen utensils, and cookware.
Linked to a range of serious health problems, they
are dubbed “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down naturally and consequently toxic exposures continue even after the packaging is
PFAS concerns with food packaging
The basic concern with PFAS in food packaging is that consumers and some researchers fear that PFAS in food packaging
can leach into food, which then provides an easy ingestion source for consumers.
The latest pressure to ban PFAS from food packaging increases pressure on companies in the food packaging world. All
of these companies find themselves needing to adapt – quickly – to the growing trend to ban PFAS from food packaging. Under potentially
constrained timelines, companies must look for substitutes, undertake PFAS testing and R&D, and conduct due diligence in order to ensure that
substitutes marketed as “PFAS free” are, in fact, from the thousands compounds that make up the PFAS class of chemicals.
How we can help
As strict enforcement measures to regulate PFAS are only just beginning, it is more important than ever to understand
what your products are made of, find safer alternatives to PFAS in food packaging and ensure compliance.
Analysis of PFAS remains a heavy burden for industrial labs because of the sheer number and variety. At Campden BRI,
we have an established testing and analysis method adaptable to
food and drink products which can detect PFAS compounds within the regulated limits. Not only this method is suitable for direct contamination,
but it can also be adapted to measure the migration of PFAS compounds from the food contact material into the food. Migration is monitored over
a period of time with consideration to food storage timescales and variations in conditions (such as temperature or humidity).
We also offer a regulatory service
to keep you up to date with PFAS regulation and the impact on products and markets.
Danielle Cawdron joined Campden BRI in 2009 as a technician in the Chemistry and Biochemistry department having graduated with a Masters degree in
How can we help you?
If you’d like to find out more about PFAS testing, contact our support team to find
out how we can help.
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