The safety of packaging might not have crossed your mind last time you were feasting on a greasy takeaway pizza. But here's an eye-opener that will startle you: according to the U.S.A.'s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), those pizza boxes are not good for your health, which is why they decided to introduce a new policy to ban the use of certain chemicals added to their material.
The material used to make pizza boxes, as well as other packaging like that of microwaveable popcorn, contains chemicals of the perfluoroalkyl ethyl kind, which are known for their ability to repel and resist oil and water. They are the reason why your packaging stays intact, even after being smeared with scraps of oily and juicy food. Hot and oily food, such as pizza, have more of a chance of being exposed to the chemicals in the cardboard. The FDA has now identified three types of perfluoroalkyl ethyl containing food-contact substances (FCSs) that are posing potential risks to our health, including the risk of cancer (as discovered by the National Institutes of Health). The banning has been in effect as of January 2016, with the aim of improving the quality of our food supply.
What are these Perfluoroalkyl Ethyl Containing Food-Contact Substances (FCSs)?
Perfluoroalkyl Ethyl Containing Food-Contact Substances (FCSs), also known as perfluorochemicals (PFCs), are chemicals that are found in various products, including Teflon pans, non-stick cookware, waterproof jackets, fire-fighting foams, furniture fabrics, and, as previously stated, food packaging. The fact that it is so commonly used made health experts curious about its health effects, which were found to be significant. These chemicals are indeed toxic and harmful to us and oral intake of them is particularly dangerous, especially since 95% of the chemicals are absorbed by the body. The shocking reality is we are constantly ingesting, through our use of the aforementioned products.
What health problems are related?
After several experiments on laboratory animals, it has been revealed that exposure to FCSs can lead to worrying health problems. FCSs may be one of the causes of birth defects, alteration of lipid metabolism, thyroid problems, alteration of the immune system, and high levels of cholesterol. They could also trigger hormonal changes and developmental harm. Furthermore, animal studies have also suggested the risk of cancer in several body organs, including the liver, pancreas and reproductive organs. All these findings led to the huge concerns about the safety and the authorized uses of these chemicals.
How can I avoid them?
We've all come in contact with these materials in one way or another, and now that you know the dangers they harbor, we recommended you keep away from them as much as possible. Start by avoiding packaged oily fast food and opting to eat in more frequently. Also, try to avoid non-stick cookware, since these may also contain harmful chemicals. At least, make sure you do not heat them to more than 450ºF, and discard of them immediately if you observe signs of deterioration.