Study: Toxic Food Packaging Putting Kids at Risk

two young girls eating pizza at a table

It's convenient when wrappers on sticks of butter and other foods peel off cleanly, but that convenience may cost you in the long run. Perfluorochemicals or PFCs, the chemicals that make so many food wrappings easy to remove, could be predisposing you and your family to heart problems far more dangerous than just eating the butter itself, according to a new study.

Researchers in Denmark have just published their findings from a study on PFCs in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, warning that these chemicals, which are regularly used to keep things grease and stain-free, could also be predisposing children to metabolic disorders later in life. Once PFCs are in the body, they can inflict damage.

The Dutch research team discovered that overweight kids who had higher levels of specific PFCs in their blood were more likely to have above-average levels of insulin and triglycerides — the types of fat that can lead to heart disease. They concluded that being overweight makes children more susceptible to the toxic effects of these persistent chemicals, which build up in the blood and take years to be eliminated from the body.

Regulators have been worried about PFCs for years, and two of the most toxic have been, or are currently being, phased out: PFOS, which was used for years in Scotchguard, and PFOA which is used to make Teflon and Goretex finishes. The Environmental Protection Agency has essentially banned any new PFC's that aren't already in commerce from entering into the U.S. market.

We all have PFCs in our homes, but can take steps to reduce the risk. Steer clear of grease-resistant food packaging, microwave popcorn bags, food wrappers, and pizza boxes with grease-resistant coatings. Check pet food bags, too. Any bag that's paper on the outside with a plastic interior lining should raise a red flag.