Food and Nutrition

Latest Scare: Fast-Food Wrappers Contain Toxic Chemicals

| by Kate Wharmby Seldman

As if it weren't enough that your burger is full of waist-expanding calories, artery-constricting fat and possible Mad Cow, now the wrapper's bad for you too.

Fast-food wrappers contain perfluoroalkyls, which are described as "a hazardous class of stable, synthetic chemicals that repel oil, grease and water." These chemicals are used to stop food grease from leaking through the wrappers onto your fingers or clothes.

A study conducted by the University of Toronto has found that these chemicals enter our bloodstream, and can be detected in feces, blood and urine. They can disrupt sex hormones and impede reproduction; harm the growth and development process in baby rats and humans; stop the pituitary gland from working properly; damage thyroid function; encourage the growth of tumors; prevent immune system function; and last, but not least, increase cholesterol.

Perfluoroalkyls are nothing new: they're found in drinking water, nonstick cookware, stainproof clothing, and carpet and rug protectants. Now, however, we have to worry about yet another source of toxic chemicals in our lives. Food wrapper manufacturers thought the chemicals on greaseproof paper wouldn't leach or enter the bloodstream. They were wrong.

Consumers can use this latest information as just another reason to stop eating fast food. When making your own healthier meals, though, remember to ditch those nonstick pans - they contain perfluoroalkyls, too.