Consumer Reports: Eating out increases PFAS exposure, study says

Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Consumer Reports: PFAS chemicals exposure increased in restaurant food, study says
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Consumer Reports says you may want to skip the reservations and cook at home.

Researches have learned that restaurant food and takeout meals may be serving up extra helpings of certain toxic chemicals called polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.

Consumer Reports says you may want to skip the reservations and cook at home.

Like many moms, Janna Wohl sees a home-cooked dinner as a chance to know exactly what her kids are eating.

"I make them something that's fresh, organic, has no additives, colors, there's a vegetable, there's something green," she said.

And now, Janna has one more reason to cook at home. A new study finds eating out and getting takeout may expose you to more of a group of toxic chemicals called per and polyfluoroalkylsubstances or PFAS.

"PFAS are what's known as forever chemicals and that's because they essentially never break down naturally," said Consumer Reports Health Editor Keven Loria. "So, once they're made, they just accumulate in the environment, they end up in our water supply, they end up in our food and they end up in us!"

At high levels of exposure, some PFAS chemicals have been linked to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and growth and learning delays in babies and children.

PFAS chemicals are everywhere, including the surface of some non-stick pans and lining some takeout containers and pizza boxes to keep grease from seeping through.

"So, we don't know how much of our individual exposure comes from food packaging exactly," Loria said. But what this study did show is that people who cooked at home more, had lower levels of PFAS in their blood than people that ate out more frequently."

Loria says there are several things you can do to limit your exposure. Starting with more fresh food.

When you do eat out or take out, it's worth simply unwrapping food as soon as you can and don't store or re-heat in the containers it came in.

The study also cites one notable exception to the cook-at-home rule: Microwave popcorn. People who reported eating it often, had higher levels of certain PFA chemicals in their blood. So limit how much microwave popcorn you eat.

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