TING PUSHES FOR NATION’S FIRST BAN OF HARMFUL CHEMICALS IN FAST FOOD PACKAGING

Thursday, April 6, 2017

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) announced legislation to make California the first state to ban chemicals linked to cancer and organ failure from fast-food wrappers and food take-out containers.

“Dangerous chemicals should not be wrapped around our food, especially what we give to our kids,” said Ting.  “Food convenience and food safety should not be competing values for those of us with lives on the go.  It’s time for California to purge these toxic chemicals from our food so they cannot further damage our health and the environment.”

Inspired by research released in February finding 40 percent of fast food wrappers test positive for toxic chemical coatings, Ting’s Assembly Bill (AB) 958 would prohibit food providers from using food wrappers and to-go containers made with Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs).  PFCs are used to make food packaging leak-proof and grease-proof.  They have been used in food packaging - like bags, wrappers, beverage containers and to go boxes - for decades.  Since the packaged food ends up being coated with PFCs, the chemicals are ingested.

In 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began forcing chemical companies to phase out the use of “long-chain” PFCs.  Chemical manufacturers subsequently developed “short-chain” PFC substitutes that they claim to not have the same harmful and toxic effects as their predecessors.  A 2015 industry experiment on a “short-chain” PFC found that rats exposed to the chemical developed cancerous tumors in the liver, pancreas, and testicles, as well as kidney disease, liver degeneration, and uterine polyps.  “Short chain” PFCs are less effective than “long-chain” PFCs in sealing food packaging, prompting manufacturers to use more of them in coating their products.  An Environmental Science & Technology Letters study found that “short-chain” PFCs in paper bowls were more prevalent than “long-chain” PFCs, elevating exposure levels.

“It’s been more than a decade since the dangers of PFCs became known, but too many fast food wrappers still contain these toxic chemicals,” said Susan Little, Senior California Government Affairs Advocate for the Environmental Working Group, a co-sponsor of the legislation.  “Exposure to some of these chemicals can cause harm at the very lowest doses, especially to developing children.  Since a third of the nation’s children, across all ethnicities and income levels, eat fast food every day, Assemblymember Ting’s bill is urgently needed.”

“At Clean Water Action, we asked ourselves why any company would use products with toxic chemicals that can taint their food, and we couldn't come up with a justifiable answer,” added Andria Ventura, Toxics Program Manager at

Clean Water Action, a co-sponsor of the legislation.  “That's why we made the decision to stand with Assembly Member Ting and co-sponsor this important bill.  People shouldn't be exposed to these chemicals, period.”

In 2015, hundreds of scientists urged the abandonment of PFCs and the development of safer alternatives.

###

Contacts:

Anthony Matthews (Ting), tel. (916) 319-2019, anthony.matthews@asm.ca.gov

Monica Amarelo (EWG), tel. (202) 939-9140, monica@ewg.org

Matt Davis (Clean Water Action), tel. (415) 369-9160 ext 343, mattdavis@cleanwater.org