Almost all of us have indulged in fast food at some point of our lives. While some are addicted to fast food and consume it on a regular basis, others try to find ‘healthy’ versions of fast food to appease their conscience! Whatever the case may be, most of us are unaware of the fact that the packaging used for ‘take away’ fast food is more often than not laced with dangerous toxins and chemicals.
Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) are chemical compounds that are commonly used in the packaging food wrappers in order to prevent the leakage of grease and other liquids from the food item. However, owing to the grease and heat inside the packaging, these chemicals easily percolate into the food.
PFCs belong to the same group of chemicals that are used in the production of Teflon and other stain or water repellant coatings such as ScotchGuard. While the dangers of these existing chemicals have been duly noted, leading to a complete ban on their usage, new breeds of these PFCs continue to be used in various kinds of consumer products.
Perfluorinated chemicals have been associated with some serious health problems such as testicular and kidney cancer, reproductive defects and developmental problems, unusual thyroid levels and deficiencies in your immune system. Even DuPont, one of the most well-known manufacturers of PFCs, has readily acknowledged that many of these chemicals may cause malignant tumors in humans and animals. Furthermore, it has been found that children are the most vulnerable to these harmful chemicals.
A recent study in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology conclusively proves that most food wrappers do indeed contain the same dangerous chemicals used in Teflon. Scientists from various fields of work, including federal and state agencies, came together to test random samples of sandwich wrappers, pizza boxes and other food packaging materials from 27 different fast food joints. It was found that 40% of the 327 samples tested positive for presence of these PFCs.
To rectify this alarming situation, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has put forward a few recommendations. Some of these are:
- Fast food chains should stop using PFCs and other related toxic compounds for food packaging.
- The FDA should shut a loophole in their regulatory practices that enables companies to provide self-certification (‘generally recognized as safe’) for the chemicals they use.
- Consumers should limit their exposure to the harmful chemicals present in fast food wrappers by removing them as soon as possible.
- Consumers should avoid eating in paper plates and other paper utensils.
- Consumers should avoid eating microwave popcorn.
- Consumers should avoid using non-stick dental floss that contains PFCs.
Ultimately, it is already an established fact that fast food is unhealthy for you in general because it is processed with chemical preservatives and additives, artificial flavours and synthetic dyes, and often contain genetically modified ingredients. In addition to this, most fast food chains have been rumoured to use industrially-raised meat which is loaded with antibiotics and other harmful chemicals. Now we’ve given you another reason to abolish fast food from your diets!
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