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What We Know About PFAS in Our Food

Amid inadequate testing and a lack of regulation, we’re all eating “forever chemicals.”

After a much-publicized study this year found high levels of a toxic chemical class in food wrappings, many of us are eyeing that pizza or to-go salad in a new light.

Experts warn, though, that we shouldn’t just be concerned about exposure from packaged food. The compounds, PFAS, short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, appear to be widespread in our food supply . PFAS have contaminated dairy and beef farms in Maine and Michigan, and recent testing from the consumer wellness site Mamavation found evidence of the compounds in organic pasta saucescanola oils and nut butters.

But little is known about how much PFAS Americans are eating. In contrast to drinking water, which is extensively studied, “we have only anecdotal evidence for understanding (other) PFAS exposure sources for the U.S. general population,” Elsie Sunderland, a professor of environmental chemistry at Harvard University, testified to the federal House Committee on Science, Space and Technology at the end of 2021.