Health

FDA: Chemicals In Pizza Boxes, Microwave Popcorn Bags Are Potentially Toxic

| by Nik Bonopartis
Pizza In A Carry-Out BoxPizza In A Carry-Out Box

Pizzerias will have to find another way to contain grease after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it's banning chemicals used in pizza boxes and the grease-repellant paper usually found in those boxes.

The FDA announced the ban on Jan. 4, citing new data that shows three substances containing perfluoroalkyl ethyl are possibly toxic, and can linger in the body for years, The Huffington Post reported.

“The FDA’s ban is an important first step -- but just a first step -- toward improving the safety of our food supply," Erik Olson, director of the National Resources Defense Council health program, wrote in a statement, according to Food Safety News.

The NRDC and other groups -- including the Center for Food Safety, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Center for Environmental Health and others -- petitioned for the ban, saying the FDA can no longer guarantee that the perfluoroalkyl ethyl substances aren't harmful to people.

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Pizza boxes aren't the only common items impacted -- the same chemicals are used in microwave popcorn bags, wax pastry bags, carpet cleaners and camping tents, The Huffington Post notes. Most food applications for the chemicals involve repelling or containing oil, grease and other liquids.

In an earlier story by The New York Times outlining concern about the chemicals, experts said the food and manufacturing industries would have to be cautious to ensure alternatives aren't potentially toxic or carcinogenic as well.

“When you have something that is a first cousin or brother-in-law to a chemical that we are certain is carcinogenic, you have to somehow prove that it is safe before you use it -- that it is not injurious,” Paul Brooks, a medical doctor and environmental health advocate who teaches at West Virginia University, told The New York Times. “You just have to be cautious.”

Companies that dispute the ban will have an opportunity to file objections and ask for a public hearing, according to Food Safety News. The FDA said the new rule will take effect 30 days after it's published in the Federal Register, a daily federal government journal that includes public notices and changes to government agency rules.

Sources: Food Safety News, The Huffington Post, New York Times / Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Food Safety News