What are the carcinogens detected in McDonald's and Burger King?

Recently, local chain restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s in the United States have been accused of fast food packaging containing the carcinogen PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances).


What's PFAS?

PFAS is the abbreviation of per/polyfluoroalkyl substances, that is, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. It contains more than 5000 chemicals. Common substances are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid.


PFAS was originally used in tank waterproof coatings, with excellent thermal stability, chemical stability and hydrophobic and oleophobicity. Now it is also used in food packaging, household cleaners, non-stick cookware, cosmetics, plastics, paints, etc.

The role of PFAS in food packaging

For example, French fries bags, chicken nugget bags, dessert paper bags, hamburger boxes and salad paper bowls need to be waterproof and oil-proof, so a water- and oil-repellent coating is applied to the packaging surface. The main material of this coating is usually a high molecular polymer, which is generally safe and harmless. However, in the production process, PFAS will be used as a surfactant in order to make the polymer spread better on the surface of the packaging paper.

The hazards of PFAS

PFAS is extremely stable, difficult to degrade in nature or in the human body, and will continue to accumulate in the body. PFAS can interfere with endocrine, such as interfering with the effects of estrogen and thyroid hormone. If there are more residual PFAS in the body, it will increase the risk of kidney cancer and other cancers, increase the risk of thyroid disease, increase cholesterol levels, increase the risk of overweight and obesity, weaken the immune system, reduce the ability to fight infection, affect the body's immune response to vaccines, and also affect The growth and development of the fetus reduces the birth weight of the newborn.

Other potentially dangerous elements in food packaging

1. The danger caused by the material itself. Most packaging materials are chemical products, and the materials themselves have hidden dangers. For example, monomers that crack when plastics are heated at high temperatures, heavy metals in metal materials, etc. may be transferred to food through packaging.

2. The danger caused by illegal additives in the production process. For example, in order to improve the whiteness of paper, use optical brighteners (such as optical brightener FWA5bm) and plasticizers (such as diisononyl phthalate) added to plastic products.


Paper bags is not more eco-friendly than plastic bags

1. Compared with the production of plastic shopping bags, the production of paper bags can bring 70% more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants.

2. 2000 plastic bags weigh about 30 pounds, and 2000 paper bags weigh about 280 pounds. Discarded paper bags will occupy more landfill space.

3. The energy required to recycle 1 pound of plastic bags is 91% less than the energy required to recycle 1 pound of paper bags.

4. The energy of producing a paper bag is more than 4 times that of producing a plastic bag.

Food packaging selection tips

1. Try to use packaging with the words "for food" on the packaging. As early as 1990, China promulgated a policy requiring clinker products for food to be printed with the words for food in obvious places.

2. Do not touch the food with the printed side. In the process of pattern printing, manufacturers often use benzene as a solvent, and it is a second-class carcinogen. Although benzene is a volatile gas, it will inevitably remain.

3. Do not choose brightly colored ceramic products. The brighter the color of the porcelain glaze, the higher the lead content, and these lead will be fully precipitated during use.

Source from MOLBASE