by Daisy Luther
Just in case you needed another reason to avoid fast food, I’ve got one for you.
The same cancer-causing chemicals found in non-stick cookware and stain removers has been found in some fast food wrappers used in popular restaurants.
Everyone is in a rush and many people feel like they’re too busy to put a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Instead, dinner often includes a detour through the drive-thru to pick up a bag of something our ancestors wouldn’t even have recognized as food. As Eric Schlosser wrote in his best-seller,“What we eat has changed more in the last forty years than in the previous forty thousand.”
Unfortunately, according to a new study, that convenient dinner may have some very inconvenient repercussions.
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame found that fluorinated compounds were present in a number of samples. Perfluorinated chemicals (PFC’s) have known links to kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disease, low birth weight and immunotoxicity in children, among other health issues.
More than 400 samples of fast food packaging were tested including french fry containers, disposable cups and hamburger and sandwich wrappers.
The chemicals were found in:
- 38% percent of sandwich and burger wrappers
- 20% of paperboard used in soft drink cups and french fry packages
- 56% of bread and dessert wrappers
Graham Peaslee, a professor of experimental nuclear physics in the College of Science at the University of Notre Dame did the testing. He said:
“This is a really persistent chemical. It gets in the bloodstream, it stays there and accumulates. There are diseases that correlate to it, so we really don’t want this class of chemicals out there.” (source)
It’s suspected that the chemical can leach into the hot food in the same manner that it does when you use cookware with toxic chemicals.
Companies deny their fast food wrappers contain cancer-causing chemicals.
When the fast food companies whose wrappers were in question were contacted by researchers, they either didn’t respond at all or denied that the research was accurate.
Upon the results of the study, researchers reached out to each of the fast food chains that had been sampled to see if they were aware the packaging being used contained fluorinated chemicals. Only two responded, each stating they believed their packaging was free of PFASs — one went so far as to state they had received verification from their supplier. But the study showed both respondents had tested positive for a substantial amount of fluorinated chemicals, leading researchers to believe that some chains may be unaware of what’s in their packaging. (source)
The companies involved weren’t named in the study, but fast food establishments are a huge business in the US. According to author and researcher Eric Schlosser,“The typical American now consumes approximately three hamburgers and four orders of french fries every week.”
Here are the biggest names in the quick-service and fast-casual industry by number of locations: (source)
- Subway – 25,903 U.S. locations
- McDonald’s – 14,157 U.S. locations
- Pizza Hut – 7,756 U.S. locations
- Dunkin’ Donuts – 7,200 U.S. locations
- Burger King – 7,183 U.S. locations
- Starbucks – 6,866 U.S. locations
- Wendy’s – 6,186 U.S. locations
- Taco Bell – 5,695 U.S. locations
- Domino’s Pizza – 4,928 U.S. locations
- KFC – 4,618 U.S. locations
Can you even imagine how many burgers, fries, sandwiches, desserts and drinks that list equates to? Just as an example, one statistic quoted by a McDonalds representative was that they sell 225 million burgers a year worldwide…and that was in 2014. (source)
Maybe it isn’t just the low-quality processed food we should be worried about.
Millions of fast food meals are being served up every day and 38% of them are wrapped in paper that contains cancer-causing chemicals.
Maybe the massive rise in cancer over the last four decades isn’t just caused by the processed food people are eating. Maybe it’s what that processed food is served in.
Check out these articles for some tips on making homemade food quickly and easily: