Consumers and regulators have long expressed concerns about the safety of plastic and other materials in packaging for food, and in 2019, concern turned towards perfluorinated compounds (PFAS). Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) introduced legislation in May that would ban PFAS in food containers and cookware, and a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) presentation was revealed that reportedly disclosed that agency researchers found high levels of PFAS in meat, fish, leafy greens and chocolate cake. In its response to headlines about the presentation, FDA stated, “Overall, 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. These data give our scientists a benchmark to use as we continue our critical work studying this emerging area of science.”

Denmark passed a law banning PFAS from cardboard and paper used for food packaging, but efforts to limit the use of plastic food packaging outside of the United States largely focused on banning plastic utensils, straws and other single-use implements. England and the EU both announced such bans, and Canada made similar efforts. In addition, a Canadian study purportedly found that plastic teabags can release billions of microplastics and nanoplastics into the water they are steeped in.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.