October 18, 2021
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is pleased to be part of the White House’s government-wide approach to protecting Americans from PFAS pollution and welcomes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of a roadmap prioritizing efforts to address PFAS in the environment. As highlighted in the Biden-Harris Administration Fact Sheet, the FDA will continue to expand its research, surveillance, and consultation with states to better understand dietary exposure to PFAS and work with our federal partners to ensure that the U.S. food supply remains among the safest in the world.
The FDA remains committed to using the best available current science to assess the safety of exposure to PFAS from foods. Our ongoing testing of samples from the general food supply has resulted in very few having detectable levels of PFAS, and after assessing the potential health risk, we have no scientific evidence indicating a need to avoid any food in the general food supply. However, through our work with states around potential contamination of food from areas with known environmental PFAS contamination, it’s clear that PFAS in the soil, water, or air can result in uptake by crops and animals, leading to contaminated foods. In those cases, the FDA continues to work with states to help ensure that contaminated foods do not enter the marketplace.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a diverse group of human-made chemicals used in a wide range of consumer and industrial products. Some PFAS have been more widely used and studied than others. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat. For this reason, beginning in the 1940’s, PFAS have been used in a variety of applications including in stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams. Certain PFAS are also authorized by the FDA for limited use in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment.
The widespread use of PFAS and their ability to remain intact in the environment means that over time PFAS levels from past and current uses can result in increasing levels of environmental contamination. Accumulation of certain PFAS has also been shown through blood tests to occur in humans and animals. While the science surrounding potential health effects of this bioaccumulation of certain PFAS is developing, evidence suggests it may cause serious health conditions.
As the science on PFAS advances, the FDA will continue working with other Department of Health and Human Services agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Defense, in addition to our state and local partners, to identify routes of PFAS exposure, understand associated health risks, and reduce the public’s exposure to those health risks.