Chemicals in food packaging materials finally addressed by Burger King | Valdamark Direct

To keep their food safe for customers, Burger King recently announced plans to reduce the usage of certain chemicals in the packaging of their food.

This comes after the fast-food chain has monitored reports from scientists that suggest these chemicals may hurt human health.

BurgerKing

Burger King has vowed to take an extensive and thorough approach when searching for alternative solutions for its food packaging supplies. They will be looking closely at materials such as paper and paperboard options that are better suited while ensuring they stay true to their commitment to providing a high-quality product.

Chemicals in Food Packaging

Packaging is an essential part of preserving food and providing it to consumers in a convenient fashion. Unfortunately, many commercial food products contain unknown chemicals and preservatives that are harmful to human health, present in their packaging materials.

Research has shown that food containers can leach hazardous chemical substances into the food they contain, leading to negative health implications for those who ingest the potentially compromised items. It is important to be aware of the ingredients of the packaging used by a given product to reduce any possible risk posed by consuming foods stored in chemically treated boxes, bags, and wrappers.

With the increase in consumer awareness and concern around the usage of chemicals in packaging products, manufacturers are trying to develop sustainable and healthy options that are safe for the environment. Companies are prioritizing looking into eco-friendly compounds and components such as paper, plant-based plastics, compostable materials, and renewable resources to reduce their environmental impact while also providing consumers with healthy packaging options.

Furthermore, recycled, or recyclable materials are being used by some companies as they recognize it is beneficial both economically and environmentally to adopt a circular economy approach. All these efforts from companies make it possible for people to find safe alternatives when shopping for everyday packaged items.

What is Burger King Doing About it?

The CEO of Restaurant Brands has announced that alternatives to toxic PFAS are being tested over the coming months. More details will be shared during that time, but many public health advocates are urging Burger King and its parent company to act speedily and disclose the full list of ingredients and those of the proposed alternatives.

Restaurant Brands is the parent company of several big brands including Burger King, Tim Hortons & Popeyes. It is the first time that they have, at least publicly looked to alternative food packaging materials to avoid toxic Polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances.

Why are PFAS chemicals currently used in food packaging materials?

PFAS chemicals are non-stick substances that are used primarily in moisture barrier packaging to prevent food from leaking through. Restaurant Brands are looking at several alternatives to avoid having to use PFAS chemicals whilst still achieving the leak barrier required for their food packaging to function well. The Tim Hortons brand specifically has developed and tested several PFAS-free alternatives during 2020 including a vegetable-based additive that shows promise.

The announcement of a roadmap towards toxic-free packaging has not been greeted with universal applause, however. The Mind-the-Store Campaign & Toxic-Free Future groups released a joint statement that said they were ‘disappointed' to hear that Burger King or Restaurant Brands has yet adopted a policy to either phase out or eliminate PFAS products. They were however encouraged to hear alternatives were being investigated and that findings would be shared shortly.

The view from the The-Mind-the-Store campaign is that many of Burger King's competitors have already committed to doing this by the end of 2021 and they should be following them. They are also keen to observe that Burger King is not simply replacing one toxic chemical additive for another. They also found that Burger King already serves food in PFAS-free wrappers strongly suggesting that they have already found viable alternatives.

Toxic free future believes Burger King ‘owes it to their customers to deliver food in safe packaging.

PFAS Chemicals in Food Packaging - An Overview

The use of PFAS chemicals in food packaging is increasing due to their unique barrier properties. Packaging made with PFAS chemicals tends to create a thinner, lighter, and less expensive package that is both durable and flexible. This allows for improved delivery of the product, with increased shelf life and better protection from spoilage especially now that consumer demand increases so much year on year. Additionally, manufacturers can have packages that are more cost-effective as PFAS-based materials tend to be less expensive than other packages on the market today.

Even though there may be some health risks associated with using such products, some argue that the benefits outweigh the costs given the practicality of their usage in food packaging.

However, in 2021 a report published by the mind the store campaign and toxic free future found that major brands in the fast-food space like Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy's were likely to serve toxic PFAS harmful chemicals in many of their most popular choices. The study sampled six restaurant's and as of writing this article, only Burger King had not yet committed to banning PFAS substances and selecting the right food packaging.

The study also found PFAS traces in 100% of its breast milk samples indicating that PFAS does build up in humans when consumed over some time. PFAS chemicals are often referred to as ‘forever chemicals' as they do not break down in the environment over time.

Scientists have established some well-documented links between PFAS exposure and a catalogue of health problems. The chemicals tend to migrate quite easily out of the packaging carrier even after the disposal of the items. Other evidence shows these chemicals can even find their way back to people through drinking water, air, and food.

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