Good News: Fast Food Packaging Is Full Of Toxic Chemicals

Several months ago, science assured us that the odds of getting coronavirus from fast food and takeout were slim to none. We enjoyed our Big Macs and Chalupas in relative peace. Now, science says the packaging of all that food is full of toxic chemicals. Sorry, folks. A new report titled "Packaged in Pollution: Are food chains using PFAS in packaging?" was published Thursday by environmental advocacy groups Toxic-Free Future and Mind the Store. Testing showed toxic PFAS substances—man-made perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals—in Burger King's packaging for Whoppers, chicken nuggets, and cookies; in the paper bags at Wendy's; and in wrappers for McDonald's Big Mac, french fries, and cookies. And if you think you've been avoiding these chemicals by only ordering takeout that comes in environmentally friendly molded fiber containers, you're not—the study tested containers used by Cava, Freshii, and Sweetgreen, and all tested extremely high for PFAS. In fact, paper-fiber containers showed the highest levels of any packaging tested.

The good news: paperboard cartons or clamshells all tested below the screening level, so your Quarter Pounder isn't going to fatally poison you. Cava and Sweetgreen have both announced that they are in the process of eliminating the chemicals from their packaging. McDonald's is also aware of the problem, telling CNN the company has already eliminated some PFASs in its packaging, and is in talks with suppliers to eliminate them completely.