Pet food likely contaminated with dangerous “forever chemicals” from packaging, warns EWG study
07 Nov 2022 --- Household pets are likely routinely exposed to hazardous levels of PFAS – commonly known as “forever chemicals” – through food packaging, finds a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The findings suggest that most domestic cats and dogs in the country could develop common health problems such as liver and kidney disease due to packaging.
EWG commissioned an independent laboratory to test 11 bags of pet food for total fluorine – which indicates the likely presence of PFAS – uncovering at least six individual chemicals in “alarming” levels, which the group says are likely toxic to both pets and children.
“It’s almost impossible to avoid PFAS because, as these tests confirm, they’re prevalent in all aspects of our daily lives,” says Sydney Evans, a science analyst at EWG who led the project. “The PFAS coating on these products wears off and gets into dust that can be ingested by children and pets.”
“The concentrations of PFAS found in pet food bags represent a significant source of PFAS in the home. They’re a good indicator of how much PFAS may eventually be released into the environment after these coatings wear down.”
Of the 11 bags tested, four with the highest concentrations of fluorine were sent for additional tests, which revealed levels of specific PFAS compounds.
The tests uncovered individual PFAS in some of the pet food bags: the chemicals PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA, PFHpA, x62FTCA, x62diPAP and PFPrA. For cats, Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & Chicken Flavors Dry Cat Food had the highest total fluorine, with 630 parts per million (ppm). More tests found two PFAS at 5.5 parts per billion (ppb).
The sample of Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken had total fluorine at 310 ppm. Additional tests revealed it was contaminated with six different PFAS at an alarming 245 ppb.
For dogs, Kibbles n’ Bits Bacon and Steak flavor registered 590 ppm of total fluorine. Additional tests found two PFAS at 14.3 ppb. Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe food had a total fluorine of 140 ppm.
Total fluorine tests capture a wide variety of PFAS and serve as an important screening tool for finding PFAS-based coatings and treatments usually missed by tests for specific PFAS. These high concentrations suggest that PFAS-based treatments are being used in these products, which could eventually degrade and add to PFAS concentrations in the dust.
Fighting pet food PFAS
With compressed life spans, animals mature and age about seven times faster than children. EWG has previously found that pets develop health problems from chemical exposure more rapidly. PFAS has been linked to cancer, from which around 20-25% of dogs in the US die.
Dogs suffer much higher rates of many kinds of cancer than people, including 35 times more skin cancer, four times more breast tumors, eight times more bone cancer, and twice the incidence of leukemia, according to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Center.
No top pet food manufacturer has committed publicly to stop using PFAS chemicals in their packaging. Despite various motions and bills being proposed, the US government has not implemented a blanket ban on the chemicals.
Recently, a North Carolina State University study, which is among the largest ever conducted, checked roughly 1,500 blood samples from people living in the Cape Fear River basin over several years. Nearly all were found to have multiple dangerous compounds in their blood, and most were recommended for medical screening.
By Louis Gore-Langton
This feature is provided by NutritionInsight’s sister website, PackagingInsights.
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