Most people don't think twice about the paper wrappers around burgers, fries and other fast food items.
"I've always been told that styrofoam is worse than paper. But I really don't know," lunchtime customer Ryan Harper said outside a fast food restaurant.
But it was surprising to learn that Consumer Reports has just sounded the alarm about some fast-food packaging.
In a report called Dangerous PFAS Chemicals Are in Your Food Packaging, the nonprofit advocacy group says PFAS, sometimes known as "forever chemicals," are in some of the grease and water-resistant wrappers and fiber bowls used by many fast-food restaurants.
Consumer Reports says the chemicals have been linked to immune system suppression and even cancer.
Brian Ronholm of Consumer Reports said "of the products we tested, of the 118 products, 37 of them had levels above 25 parts per million. Those are pretty troubling readings if you take a step back. When you get above 20 parts per million, that's when you start worrying about the levels."
You can read their full investigation.
How to protect yourself
So, what can you do to protect your family when you get takeout and you are not sure exactly what's in that packaging? Ronholm says your best bet is to "take them out of the wrapper as quickly as possible and put them on a plate at home."
The most important thing, he says, is to never microwave fast food in its wrapper.
Companies promise changes
Following Consumer Reports' investigation, McDonald's, Burger King and Chick-fil-A all went to social media, promising to phase out PFAS in the next few years. Arby's, in the meantime, sent us a statement saying they will phase them out by the end of 2022.
Ronholm says that is good news because "they don't break down in the environment, and they stay in our bodies for a really long time."
So, don't assume that wrapper is just paper, so you stay safe and don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money" is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. ("Scripps").
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