On June 11, Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless released a statement highlighting recent agency efforts to better understand the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food and providing findings from recent tests of food samples in the United States. In presenting the initial results of the testing, which focused on foods from specific geographic areas with known environmental contamination, Sharpless affirmed that 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.”
PFAS, which is a catch-all term for a family of human-made substances known for their grease, water, and oil-resistant properties, are widely used in a variety of everyday products such as fabrics, cleaning products, and paints. They are also authorized for a limited number of uses in cookware and certain food packaging applications. PFAS have been the subject of increased scrutiny among environmental groups and certain states.
Of the 91 samples evaluated from the 2017 FDA Total Diet Study (TDS), 14 contained PFAS. The safety assessments undertaken for these 14 samples indicated no human health concern, based on analysis of the level of PFAS found in that food, consumption of that food, and the most current toxicological information available for PFAS. Sharpless’ announcement comes one week after FDA updated its website to include information on PFAS in the food supply and the agency’s newly formed PFAS working group. The agency plans to continue to work with states to develop testing methods and capacities and to increase the baseline knowledge of PFAS levels in foods.
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