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  1. Process Contaminants in Food

Market Phase-Out of Grease-Proofing Substances Containing PFAS

<< Authorized Uses of PFAS in Food Contact Applications

Food contact substances containing different types of PFAS have been used for grease-proofing. Grease-proofing agents are substances applied to paper and paperboard packaging to prevent leaking of grease, oil, or water. This type of use can result in dietary exposure to the substance from the transfer or migration into the food. This is due to the molecular structure of the substance and the way it is applied to the surface. For more information, please see the section: Assessing Dietary Exposure to Food Contact Substances Containing PFAS.

In February 2024, the FDA announced that substances containing PFAS were no longer being sold into the U.S. market for use as grease-proofing agents on paper food packaging. This is result of the fulfillment of the voluntary market phase-out commitments made by manufacturers, as well as previous FDA regulatory actions and the decision by manufacturers to stop selling the remaining grease-proofing agents (containing a different type of PFAS). This phase-out is eliminating the primary source of exposure to PFAS from authorized food contact uses.

The FDA first raised safety concerns with certain PFAS substances in the early 2000s as part of a post-market assessment. Through a combination of voluntary market withdrawals and FDA revocations of authorizations, grease-proofing agents that contained a class of PFAS commonly referred to as “C8 compounds” or “long-chain” compounds stopped being used for food contact use in the U.S. market between 2011 and 2016. At that time, industry used as a replacement, substances that contained “short-chain” PFAS that had been authorized for this use. The data and information submitted at the time of application for the substances containing short-chain PFAS, demonstrated a reasonable certainty of no harm from the intended use of these types of PFAS.

In 2020, after data became available to the FDA that raised potential safety concerns about a subset of the substances that contained a specific short-chain PFAS known as 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (6:2 FTOH), the FDA obtained market-phase-out commitment letters from each of the manufacturers of PFAS grease-proofing agents that contain this substance.

In 2023, the FDA received confirmation from manufacturers of all remaining authorized grease-proofing substances containing different types of PFAS that those manufacturers had ceased to produce and sell those products for business reasons unrelated to safety.

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