Packaging PFAS US

FDA Reviewing All PFAS in Food Contact Applications

Chemical company Chemours asks US FDA to pull food contact approvals for PFASs; and FDA is reviewing all authorised uses of chemicals in food applications.

Chemical company Chemours has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to withdraw food packaging approvals for two of its per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs).

The company notified the FDA of its request to pull its food contact substance notifications (FCNs) because, it says, it has stopped manufacturing the “products associated with them”. The substances are:

  • 2-propenoic acid, 2-methyl-, polymer with 2-(diethylamino)ethyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate, 2-propenoic acid and 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,8-tridecafluorooctyl 2-methyl-2-propenoate, acetate; and
  • hexane, 1,6-diisocyanato-, homopolymer, 3,3,4,4,5,5,6,6,7,7,8,8,8-tridecafluoro-1-octanol-blocked.
    The three approved intended uses of these substances cover oil and grease resistant treatment for paper and paperboard.

The company told Chemical Watch that, since its inception in 2015, food packaging has “never been a focus for Chemours”.

“We have been working on withdrawing these FCNs for some time and we do not have any intention of pursuing any new FCNs for PFAS products to be used in food packaging,” it said.

The company is focusing on developing applications in other end markets, such as automotive, consumer electronics and energy storage. Markets that are “essential to our modern way of life”.

Chemours says the withdrawals of the FCNs will not have any impact on the food packaging market, adding that “we have not meaningfully participated in this marketplace for some time”.

PFASs scrutinised

Recent months have seen heightened concern in the US about PFASs, amid reports of widespread contamination in the environment.

And the May release of findings from an FDA study on the substances’ presence in food has brought additional focus to food contact applications.

According to the agency, PFASs have the potential to transfer to food. The specific authorised food packaging uses, however, “take into consideration this potential for migration and these authorised uses are limited to ensure safe levels of exposure.”

Nevertheless, the FDA says that while the science surrounding potential health effects of the substances is developing, current evidence suggests that the bioaccumulation of certain PFASs may cause serious health conditions.

And because of these mounting concerns, the FDA is reviewing the 63 authorised uses of PFASs in food contact applications.

Earlier this month, however, two NGOs called on the FDA to revoke its approval of all PFASs for use in food contact applications while these investigations continue.

And both Washington state and Maine have adopted laws that would see PFASs banned from food contact applications, provided alternatives can be identified.

Long- vs short-chain

Concerns initially focused on long-chain PFASs – those with six carbon atoms or above. The FDA in 2011 obtained voluntary agreements with the manufacturers of certain long-chain PFASs, authorised under FCNs, to remove them from food contact applications.

And in 2015 and 2016, the agency revoked the regulations that authorised the remaining uses of long-chain PFASs in food packaging.

However, concerns have since mounted on the chemical group as a whole, with some studies suggesting short-chain PFASs, supported by industry as safer alternatives to long-chains, have similar adverse properties.

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Published on chemicalwatch.com and written by Leigh Stringer