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Important Consumer Report: PFAS Found At Over 10 Different Fast-Food Chains!

Apr 22, 2022 | Blog

Important Consumer Report: PFAS Found in Fast-Food Packaging!

It is no secret that fast food is typically criticized as being unhealthy.

From the deficiency of nutrients to the risk of obesity, even the effects that it can have on a person’s respiratory system and teeth, none of this is the latest information being delivered to the public. 

What is new, however, are health concerns regarding the fast-food packaging itself. 




Forever Chemicals & Fast-Food Packaging 

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are more commonly known by the name “forever chemicals” – and can be found in items like nonstick pans and waterproof clothing or materials. It is also found in all grease-resistant packaging that fast-food restaurants and supermarkets use. 

Packaging that is made with PFAS may resemble paper or cardboard – and one would think that using an alternative to plastic would be extremely beneficial – but as of late, PFAS exposure has been linked to all types of problems, such as:  

And it is not just those concerns, PFAS health effects were also linked to several types of cancer:  

Another concern is that when fast-food packaging that contains PFAS’ is thrown away both publicly and privately, that trash can end and will end up in landfills, and PFAS can continue to be absorbed into via water and soil – if it is incinerated, it can spread through the air. 


PFAS, Michigan PFAS

A sign at a lake in Michigan letting residents know that they should avoid the foam as it may have high amounts of PFAS. Michigan PFAS levels have been known to be incredibly high, harming pets and citizens.

What Products Contain PFAS?

Consumer Reports tested over 100 different food packages from different fast-food restaurant chains and supermarket retailers. Here are the products that tested the worst:  


  • Arby’s 
  • Bag for Cookies 
  • Wrapper for Sandwich Wrap 
  • Burger King 


  • Bag for Cookies 
  • Wrapper for Whopper 
  • Bag for Chicken Nuggets 
  • Cava 
  • Fiber Tray for Kid’s Meal 
  • Fiber Bowl for Grains, Salad 
  • Wrapper for Mini-Pita 
  • Wrapper for Pita-Sandwich 
  • Bag for Pita Chips 
  • Checkers 
  • Container for French Fries 
  • Chick-Fil-A 
  • Wrapper for Sandwich Wrap 
  • Chipotle 
  • Fiber Bowl with Four Compartments 
  • Wrapper for Burrito(s) 
  • McDonald’s 
  • Bag for French Fries 
  • Bag for Cookies 
  • Bag for Chicken McNuggets 
  • Container for Big Mac 
  • Nathan’s Famous
  • Bag for Sides (Green Stripe) 
  • Bag for Sides (Red Stripe) 
  • Wrapper for Sandwich 
  • Container for Hamburger(s) 
  • Panera Bread
  • Container for Flatbread Pizza 
  • Bag for Baguette 
  • Roy Rogers 
  • Wrapper for Hamburger (Foil Lined) 
  • Stop & Shop 
  • Paper Plates (Bamboo) 
  • Paper Plates (Grease-Resistant) 
  • Tray for Store-Brand Thin-Crust Extra Cheese Pizza 
  • Sweetgreen 
  • Paper Bag for Focaccia 
  • Taco Bell 
  • Paper Bag for Chips 
  • Trader Joes 
  • Bakery Box for Pancake Bread 
  • White Castle 
  • Container for Clam Strips 
  • Whole Foods Market 
  • Container for Soup 

What The Companies Said in Response 

In response to the data collected by Consumer Reports, the following statements were made: 

  • Sweetgreen: “We may have trace amounts of fluorine in our bowls. Unfortunately, PFAS are a widespread problem and are present in everyday life from tap water to air to soil.” 
  • Whole Foods: “We don’t make PFAS-free claims, but we strive to prevent intentionally added PFAS in packaging.” 

Both Panera Bread and Chipotle said that their goal was to avoid packaging with intentionally added PFAS as well. 

Cava said that a supply chain problem has slowed their “transition to eliminating added PFAS,” going on to add that they hope to complete the process by the end of 2022. 

In early 2021, McDonalds had pledged to remove PFAS from their packaging globally by the year 2025 – and the biggest rival, Burger King (as of last month) has committed to the same promise. 

This, however, has not stopped new lawsuits from popping up against both burger chains. 

The lawsuits against both McDonald’s and Burger King seek class-action status and are quite similar in their arguments. Instead of fighting to try and prove that exposure to PFAS has caused significant harm to consumers, these suits are taking the approach that both burger giants have committed fraud, false advertising, and misrepresentation for claiming that the food they serve is safe. 

Here is an excerpt about one of the lawsuits: 

In a lawsuit filed March 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, for example, plaintiff Larry Clark charged McDonald’s Corp. with exposing American consumers to high levels of PFAS in product packaging, arguing that exposure is most dangerous for young children and pregnant women. In the complaint, Clark refers to a “host of health effects associated with PFAS” outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.” 



Many Americans have already taken a stance, protesting and trying to raise awareness of the PFAS inside of McDonalds packaging – using the hashtag #NotLovinIt to form a community online.


How Can I Avoid PFAS? 

Great question!  It’s not ideal to think that you can walk into your local Burger King and ask for chicken nuggets – but, please hold the PFAS! Surely, you will be greeted with a few odd stares from the employees. However, according to researchers, the best way to avoid PFAS in this scenario is to limit the amount of times you consume takeout. 

Here are five other ways to actively try to avoid PFAS: 

  • Consider Retailers Who Pledge to Reduce PFAS 
  • Do Not Assume Products with Environmentally Friendly Claims are PFAS-Free 
  • Transfer Takeout Food to New Packaging When Possible 
  • Never Reheat Takeout Food in the Original Packaging 
  • Test Your Water for PFAS – (click here for more information.) 


“People ask why I like being a lawyer. I get the opportunity to help somebody every day. What could be better than that?” Don Marcari.


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