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Authorized Uses of PFAS in Food Contact Applications

<< Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Since the 1960s, the FDA has authorized several broad classes of PFAS for use in food contact substances due to their non-stick and grease, oil, and water-resistant properties.  The authorization of the use of a food contact substance requires that available data and information demonstrate that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm for that use. To ensure food contact substances are safe for their intended use, the FDA conducts a rigorous review of scientific data prior to their authorization for market entry. This includes reviewing data on migration of the food contact substance into food, expected consumer exposure to the food contact substance from this and other uses in food, and potential health impact from this exposure.

PFAS that are authorized for use in contact with food generally fall into four application categories:

  • Non-stick cookware: PFAS may be used as a coating to make cookware non-stick.
  • Gaskets, O-Rings, and other parts used in food processing equipment: PFAS may be used as a resin in forming certain parts used in food processing equipment that require chemical and physical durability.
  • Processing aids: PFAS may be used as processing aids for manufacturing other food contact polymers to reduce build-up on manufacturing equipment. 
  • Paper/paperboard food packaging: PFAS may be used as grease-proofing agents in fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, take-out paperboard containers, and pet food bags to prevent oil and grease from foods from leaking through the packaging.

The FDA reviews new scientific information on the authorized uses of food contact substances to ensure that these uses continue to be safe. When the FDA identifies potential safety concerns, the agency ensures that these concerns are addressed or that these substances are no longer used in food contact applications. The FDA can work with industry to reach voluntary market phase-out agreements for such food contact substances. The FDA can also revoke food contact authorizations when the agency determines that there is no longer a reasonable certainty of no harm from the authorized use of a food contact substance.

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