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  1. Process Contaminants in Food

Analytical Results of Testing Food for PFAS from Environmental Contamination

<< Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

To understand the potential dietary exposure to PFAS from food, the FDA has focused its testing on foods most commonly eaten by people in the United States. The FDA also conducts testing of food grown or produced in areas with known environmental contamination, to detect and evaluate potential contamination of human and animal food. When the FDA finds a detectable level of PFAS, the agency conducts an assessment to evaluate whether the level detected presents a possible human health concern and warrants further FDA action.

The FDA’s analytical method is validated for each type of PFAS. The types of PFAS that the FDA tests for is dependent on their expected uptake to foods and on the availability of chemical standards (i.e., the unique chemical fingerprint that allows us to separately detect and measure each PFAS). For example, in the FDA’s 2022 survey of seafood some of the PFAS that were added to our method had been identified in the literature as being more prevalent in seafood.

The development of toxicological reference values is an area of ongoing scientific research. Toxicological reference values help the FDA to assess if there is a potential health concern from exposure to specific types of PFAS, at certain levels. Currently there are six PFAS (PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, HFPO-DA ⌈GenX⌉, and PFBS) from environmental contamination for which the FDA can assess the potential human health concern for levels found in food. At this time, there are no other appropriate toxicological reference values for the other types of PFAS that the FDA may test for. Therefore, it is not possible to determine at what levels exposure for these other types of PFAS may be a potential health concern. Additionally, we are not able at this time to determine if there is a cumulative health risk from co-exposure to multiple types of PFAS detected in food samples.

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