Just this week, reports have circulated in the media about PFAs, aka Forever Chemicals, found in our food. Parentology’s Kristina Cappetta reported on FDA tests finding levels of PFAs in samples of chicken, tilapia, hot dogs, beef and chocolate cake. Today, it’s been revealed that 3M, a manufacturer of industrial chemicals, conducted tests back in 2001 and discovered that high levels of PFAs (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, synthetic chemicals) they produced were found in many popular supermarket foods.
CDC scientists have conducted tests and found widespread exposure to four PFAS (PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS or perfluorohexane sulfonic acid, and PFNA or perfluorononanoic acid) in the U.S. population. What this means, per a Quartz article on dangers of PFAs, is that these two chemicals are now “found in the blood of virtually all Americans.”
In response to reports about the withheld information, 3M released a statement to Quartz saying they made their findings available to the EPA within seven days of its completion.
“This report is one of thousands of documents we have placed in the public domain related to the study of PFAS chemistries,” it said. “We will continue to engage with members of our communities, elected officials and regulators to share information about these chemistries.”
Whether or not the FDA knew about this study, and if so, why the information was never released, are still being investigated. However, in a statement shared with Parentology, the government agency said the following:
Overall, our findings did not detect PFAS in the vast majority of the foods tested. In addition, based on the best available current science, the 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. These data give our scientists a benchmark to use as we continue our critical work studying this emerging area of science.
3M is the maker of non-stick, waterproof, and stain-resistant products – among other common household items. The report showed the company used PFOA and PFOS, two chemicals classified as PFAs, in many of their products. According to the CDC, “Some PFAS persist in the environment, and people are mostly likely exposed by consuming PFAS-contaminated water or food. Exposure may also occur by using products that contain PFAS.”
The 3M-funded study focused on contaminated food in six cities from Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and Georgia. Some of the food in which PFAs were detected include beef, milk, green beans and apples. What 3M learned through the study was that these industrial chemicals, which they deemed toxic, don’t degrade. Human consumption of water and food supplies has led to a contamination crisis.
PFAS chemicals have been linked various health risks including cancer, thyroid disease, weakened immune systems, and developmental problems in fetuses. 3M and Dupont no longer produce PFOA and PFAS in the United States, though GenX, a chemical in the PFAS family, is still manufactured in agricultural states like North Carolina.
3M Food Contamination – Sources
The Intercept: 3M Knew About PFAs Food Contamination in 2001
Quartz: 3M Has Long Known It Was Contaminating the US Food Supply
Letter to US Food and Drug Administration
EWG: How long has FDA known about fluorinated compounds in food supply?