Chemical giants hid dangers of “forever chemicals” in food packaging for more than a decade
07/26/2021 // Divina Ramirez // Views

Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin had known about the dangers of certain chemicals used in food packaging since 2010 but hid them from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The Guardian first reported.

The chemicals, known as 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (FTOH), have been linked to several health problems, such as developmental problems, cancer and liver and neurological damage. Despite that, the chemicals can still be found in to-go food containers, greaseproof pizza boxes and fast-food wrappers.

Both companies had submitted internal studies to the FDA proving that 6:2 FTOH was safer than other types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Known as "forever chemicals," PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals typically used to make many types of everyday products, such as non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and stain-resistant carpets.

But Maricel Maffini, an independent researcher who studies PFAS in food packaging, found that Daikin withheld a 2009 study that showed 6:2 FTOH stayed in animals' bodies for much longer than initially thought.

According to Maffini, had the FDA seen the findings of the study, it is unlikely that the FDA would have approved 6:2 FTOH. DuPont was also caught hiding studies that suggest toxicity in PFAS. In particular, researchers have found higher mortality rates among young animals and mothers exposed to PFAS.

Despite these revelations, DuPont and Daikin are not facing any repercussions.

How to reduce exposure to PFAS

In 2020, the FDA announced that three manufacturers agreed to a three-year phase-out of their sales of compounds that contain 6:2 FTOH. After the three-year period, it could take up to 18 months for manufacturers to exhaust existing stocks of products containing 6:2 FTOH in the market.


Companies like Taco Bell, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's have vowed to be proactive in using wrappers, containers and other types of food packaging that don't contain 6:2 FTOH.

However, it's important to note that the phase-out only applies to 6:2 FTOH, not other kinds of PFAS. So until more states ban PFAS, customers need to be vigilant about the foods they consume and the packaging those foods come in. (Related: New study finds that a chemical in food packaging is damaging children’s teeth.)

Here are other ways to reduce your exposure to 6:2 FTOH and other types of PFAS:

  • Avoid non-stick cookware. Non-stick pans and baking tins contain PFAS that emit fumes when heated at high temperatures. It's better to use stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead.
  • Don't preheat non-stick cookware. If you can't afford to replace your cookware yet, don't preheat non-stick cookware, at least. You also shouldn't use non-stick cookware in an oven heated at or above 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Avoid microwave popcorn. Microwave popcorn bags are lined with PFAS inside to keep the grease from leaking out. These chemicals can leach into the actual popcorn when heated.
  • Bring reusable containers for leftovers and to-go food. When eating out, it's better to bring an extra glass or stainless steel container for bringing home leftovers and to-go food instead of using the grease-proof packaging provided.
  • Avoid PFAS-coated dental floss. PFAS can also be found in dental floss. To avoid PFAS-coated floss, read the label or research dental floss brands that don't have PFAS in their products.
  • Avoid treated carpets. Stain-resistant carpets treated with PFAS pose a health risk to young children. Most major retailers no longer sell carpets with PFAS, but it still won't hurt to keep an eye out.
  • Avoid waterproof or stain-resistant clothes. Clothes can also be lined with PFAS. You'll normally find these chemicals in clothes marketed as "waterproof" or "stain-resistant."

Learn more about the adverse health effects associated with PFAS exposure at

Sources include:

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