Whether you're getting take-out from your favorite sit-down restaurant or going through a drive-thru, there is one thing in common, take-out containers.
Testing from Toxic-Free Future found that every single molded fiber bowl or tray tested from CAVA, Sweetgreen, and another chain, Freshii, contained some of the highest levels of fluorine found in the report. The presence of fluorine indicates the packaging was likely treated with PFA's.
"PFA's and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are used to make food packaging grease and water-resistant. They're often referred to as "forever chemicals" because they're nearly indestructible," Kevin Loria, Consumer Reports Health Editor said.
Many have been linked to potentially harmful health effects, including decreased fertility, weakened immune system response and increased risk for certain cancers.
CAVA, Freshii, and Sweetgreen have pledged to make changes.
"CAVA says it will eliminate PFA's in food packaging by mid-2021. Freshii plans to roll out PFA's-free bowls in early 2021, if not sooner. And Sweetgreen plans to be PFA's-free by the end of this year," Loria said.
More traditional fast-food restaurants were also found to be serving some of your favorite guilty pleasures in packaging likely treated with PFA's, as the cardboard container for McDonald's Big Mac and the wrapper for Burger King's Whopper.
Other packaging found to contain fluorine, a french fry bag from McDonald's, a chicken nuggets bag from Burger King and cookie bags from Burger King, McDonald's, and Wendy's.
Consumer Reports said Burger King and Wendy's did not respond to their request for comment. McDonald's said it had eliminated significant classes of PFA's, and added, "We know there is more progress to be made across the industry, and we are exploring opportunities with our supplier partners to go further."
Where else can you find PFA's? PFA's are also used in a wide variety of products, such as some nonstick pans, waterproofing gear, and firefighting foam. They're also used to make carpets and fabrics stain and water-resistant. The manufacture, use, and disposal of these products, along with food packaging, could contribute to exposure, either directly or through environmental contamination.