The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently discovered chemical contamination of PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) at food supply chains on many levels.
PFAS are synthetic chemicals that have been used in manufacturing for many years. They are extremely useful as they contain properties makes products resistant to heat, oil and water. They are very popular in non-stick cookware. They are also referred to as “forever chemicals” because it takes the molecular bonds that form them a very long time (thousands of years) to degrade. That is why they can gather in our bodies and the environment.
The findings by the FDA was confirmation for what doctors and scientists already assumed about these chemicals - PFAS are present in everything, including our food. For their analysis, FDA researchers tested a wide variety of food items in the US, from milk to vegetables. They discovered PFAS in 14 out of the 91 samples that included meat, dairy, grains and even chocolate cake.
Despite the findings, the FDA says there is no cause for concern. Why? “Our findings did not detect PFAS in the vast majority of the foods tested. In addition, based on the best available current science, the FDA does not have any indication that these substances are a human health concern, in other words, a food safety risk in human food, at the levels found in this limited sampling,” the FDA said in a statement.
However, experts in the field of public health say there is cause to worry. "It’s certainly not a surprise in the sense that it’s long been known that the general population is exposed to these chemicals. Essentially everyone in the U.S. has these chemicals in their bodies. We’ve known that for a long time,” said Dr Ken Spaeth, chief of occupational and environmental medicine at Northwell Health in New York, told a news portal. Adding,“My concern is that these particular FDA researchers concluded that these were safe levels, that there were no hazards posed by these levels, and I would take issue with that."
Spaeth feels we are losing sight of the big picture. The cumulative and long-term exposure of these chemicals could potentially be damaging.