A lot has been reported about how eating fast food can damage your health. Now, researchers have found another reason to avoid this unhealthy cuisine: the packaging itself.
It’s bad enough that fast food has low nutritional value and high amounts of fat, salt and calories. A regular diet of fast food has been statistically associated with weight gain, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.
But recently, U.S. researchers examined more than 400 samples of food contact papers, paperboard containers and beverage containers from fast food restaurants throughout the United States. Using spectroscopy, they discovered that 46 percent of food contact papers and 20 percent of paperboard samples contained detectable levels of fluorine.
Using liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, they found the presence of perfluorocarboxylates, perfluorosulfonates and unidentified polyfluoronated compounds. PFASs are highly persistent synthetic chemicals that have been associated with cancer, developmental toxicity, immunotoxicity and other negative health effects.
In addition to the risk of PFASs leeching from the packaging into the food itself (which the study did not address), these substances could be released into air and wastewater. As the researchers note, “Because of their environmental persistence, PFASs should be considered incompatible with compostable food packaging.”
The researchers used an Agilent HPLC interfaced with an Accurate-Mass LC-TOF system for their work.
Agilent solutions are used throughout the food production chain, including incoming inspection, quality control and packaging. Agilent solutions are also used for environmental analysis, including air, water and soil.
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