FDA Releases Results of First Survey on Presence of PFAS Chemicals in Foods

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released the findings of its initial survey on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Focusing on the presence of these chemicals in a wide range of foods, the survey is based on information from the Administration’s Total Diet Study (TDS). Here we review some of the key findings from the survey.

FDA Survey and Evaluated Chemicals

PFAS are synthetic chemical substances characterized by the presence of strong carbon-fluorine bonds. Because of this, these compounds resist degradation and, as a result, tend to persist in the environment. This persistence, combined with their widespread use, results in frequent human exposure.

Environmental contamination can introduce PFAS into the general food supply. This can also occur via contact with food packaging materials. In an effort to gain a more comprehensive understanding of PFAS and the presence of these chemicals in the food chain, the FDA has been evaluating information on foods initially gathered via the TDS.

The FDA’s recent survey looked at a group of 167 foods that have been deemed to be representative of the average diet of individuals in the United States. Among these were distributed processed foods, such as boxed foods, canned foods, baby foods, and more. The survey considered 16 different PFAS chemicals to determine whether noticeable levels could be found in the foods examined.

Substance NameAbbreviationCAS Number
Perfluorooctanoic acidPFOA335-67-1
Perfluorooctanesulfonic acidPFOS1763-23-1
Perfluoroheptanesulfonic acidPFHpS375-92-8
Perfluoroheptanesulfonic acidPFHpS375-92-8
Perfluoropentanoic acidPFPeA2706-90-3
Perfluorohexanoic acidPFHxA307-24-4
Perfluorohexanesulfonic acidPFHxS355-46-4
Perfluoroheptanoic acidPFHpA375-85-9
Perfluorobutanesulfonic acidPFBS375-73-5
1,1,2,2,3,3,4,4,5,5,5-Undecafluoro-1-pentanesulfonic acidPFPeS2706-91-4
Sodium dodecafluoro-3H-4, 8-dioxanonanoateNaDONA958445-44-8
Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acidHFPO-DA13252-13-6
Perfluorodecanoic acidPFDA335-76-2
Perfluorononanoic acidPFNA375-95-1
11-chloroeicosafluoro-3-oxaundecane-1-sulfonic acid11Cl-PF3OUdS763051-92-9
Potassium 9-chlorohexadecafluoro-3-oxanonane-1-sulfonate9Cl-PF3ONs73606-19-6

Of the foods reviewed, only 3 of them (canned tuna, fish sticks, and protein powder) contained PFAS levels that could be detected. However, given the limited sample size of the foods considered in this survey, further research may be necessary to make definitive conclusions about the chemicals and their corresponding levels.

Accessing Critical Information on PFAS and Other Chemicals

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