This just in: Fast food is bad for you. Okay, so we already knew that.
A new study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, however, suggests that we may be ingesting additional harmful chemicals, not from the food itself, but from the wrappers it comes packaged in. More specifically, the greaseproof packaging contains fluorinated chemicals that can be transferred from wrapper to food. Some of these types of chemicals have been linked to cancer as well as cholesterol, thyroid and developmental issues in young people.
“We found that 46 per cent of food contact papers and 20 per cent of paperboard samples contained detectable fluorine,” the study reports.
Now, fluorinated chemicals are handy, no doubt. It’s thanks to them that your eggs don’t stick to your non-stick pan and water beads off your rain jacket. But, they’re known to transfer into the foods they come in contact with.
Researchers found the chemicals in approximately one third of the packaging tested from a whole slew of fast food chains in the U.S., including many of our faves like McDonalds, Five Guys, D.Q., Chipotle, Pizza Hut, Starbucks and more. Dessert and bread wrappers contained the most fluorine, followed by sandwich and burger wrappers and then paperboard. None of the paper cups tested positive for the chemical.
One of the study’s co-authors, Graham Peaslee said in a press release that he was “very surprised to find these chemicals in food contact materials from so many of the samples we tested,” adding that safer alternatives are available.
Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council has reacted with some skepticism to the study, saying that “without further examination… it’s impossible to draw any definitive conclusions about the nature and source of the compounds that were detected in this particular study.”
Are these real fast food facts or #alternativefastfoodfacts? We’re not sure just yet, but for now, we’ll be avoiding that bacon cheeseburger as best we can.