A new bill backed by a San Francisco assemblyman could make California the first state in the nation to ban chemicals linked to cancer and organ failure from fast food wrappers and take-out containers.
Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, announced Thursday that AB 958 would prohibit fast food places and restaurants from using packaging and containers that contain Perfluorinated chemicals, also known as PFCs.
The chemicals help the packaging from leaking liquids but could get onto the food, especially when it's hot and greasy. Food packaging with PFCs include some sandwich wrappers, french-fry bags, beverage containers and pizza boxes.
"Dangerous chemicals should not be wrapped around our food, especially what we give to kids," Ting said in a statement. "Food convenience and food safety should be competing values for those of us with lives on the go," Ting said.
Although some PFCs have been used in food packing for decades, in 2006 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began requiring chemical companies to phase out the use of "long-chain" PFCs, according to Ting's office.
In response, chemical manufactures developed "short-chain" PFC substitutes designed to not have the same toxic effects as the earlier version.
A 2015 study using rats, however, linked the newly developed PFCs to tumors found in the rats' liver, pancreas, and testicles, as well as to kidney disease, liver degeneration and uterine polyps, Ting's office said.
"It's been more than a decade since the dangers of PFCs became known, but too many fast food wrappers still contain these toxic chemicals," Senior California Government Affairs Advocate for the Environmental Working Group Susan Little said in a statement. "Exposure to some of these chemicals can cause harm at the very lowest doses, especially in developing children."