Graphic reveals the ‘forever chemicals’ lurking in everyday foods that are linked to cancer and infertility

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Hundreds of foods and home goods have tested positive for ‘forever chemicals’
  • The chemicals have been linked to cancers, infertility, birth defects and autism
  • READ MORE:  Are YOU living in a secret forever chemical hotspot?

 A shock study recently revealed lovers of lobster, shrimp and sushi may be at high risk of ‘forever chemical’ poisoning.

The researchers behind the study warned seafood may be an underestimated source of the toxic substances, which have been strongly linked to cancer.

But a DailyMail.com graphic shows how the pervasive chemicals are lurking in just about every food group – including those that bill themselves as healthy.

There is no level of safe exposure to forever chemicals and they have been linked to multiple cancers, asthma, fertility problems, obesity, birth defects, diabetes and autism

The visual is based on results from testing by watchdogs, who have analyzed the levels of PFAS and other forever chemicals in grocery items.

The product with the highest amount of phthalates – a type of forever chemical used to make plastics – was Annie’s canned organic cheesy ravioli, which contained 53,580 nanograms of phthalates per serving. 

Phthalates may be in the lining of canned products and those in plastic containers and can seep into the food itself. 

They are known as hormone disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer, reproductive and development issues, heart and respiratory complications and neurological and behavioral problems.

Consumers hoping to avoid the chemicals should look for ‘BPA free’ on product labels.   

Other products with the highest levels included Del Monte’s canned peaches (25,000), Chicken of the Sea’s canned pink salmon (24,320); and Fairlife’s protein milk, which comes in a plastic bottle (20,450).

Similar to Annie’s canned ravioli, these products are likely high in phthalates because they are packaged in either cans or plastic material. 

High levels were found in products across food groups and beverages – with no category like dairy or meat – more likely to contain forever chemicals than another.

Poland Spring water in plastic bottles contained 4,200 nanograms of phthalates per serving. Yoplait low-fat yogurt in a plastic container had nearly 11,000 nanograms of the forever chemical in it. 

Heart-healthy Cheerios in a plastic bag in a cardboard box also contained approximately 11,000 nanograms. 

Even baby food wasn’t immune to the toxins. Gerber food in a glass jar and Similac baby formula in a can both had about 4,200 nanograms of phthalates per serving. 

Forever chemicals aren’t just in store-bought food products – another category of forever substances, PFAS, were detected in unsafe levels in food containers. 

PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are microscopic substances that take thousands of years to break down in the environment or human body. 

They are found in textiles, fire-fighting foam, nonstick cookware, clothing and grease-resistant food packaging, where they can seep into the food.

The above graphic from Toxic Free Future shows how toxic PFAS chemicals get into food products

The above graphic from Toxic Free Future shows how toxic PFAS chemicals get into food products

There is no level of safe exposure to the chemicals and PFAS have been linked to multiple cancers, asthma, fertility problems, obesity, birth defects, diabetes and autism. 

When ingested via food, it is not clear how much of the chemicals get broken down by the body or released naturally during the digestive process. But the CDC says between 2 and 20 nanograms per milliliter of blood can cause adverse health problems. 

A separate CR report investigating the presence of these tested 118 fast food wrappers and containers for their total organic fluorine content, which is considered the simplest way to assess a material’s total PFAS content.

Sixty-three items had detectable levels of organic fluorine and 22 of them had 100 or more parts per million and 15 had 20 or more ppm.  

A 2023 policy in California now requires paper food packaging to have less than 100 ppm organic fluorine. 

CR experts support a 20-ppm limit.  

The most contaminated packaging was Nathan’s Famous’ green bag for sides at 876 ppm. That was followed by Nathan’s Famous’ red bag for sides (618 ppm); the wrapper for Chick-fil-A’s sandwich wrap (553.5 ppm); Cava’s fiber tray for kids meals (548); and Cava’s fiber bowl (508.3 ppm). 

While PFAS seem to be omnipresent, there are ways you can reduce your exposure, including not reheating food in original packaging, transferring takeout food from its original container and storing it in glass or silicone containers, as well as choosing companies that have pledged to reduce the use of PFAS in their products. 

Additional testing done by the Natural Resources Defense Council on clothing, shoes and accessories gave 14 companies F grades regarding their use of PFAS in their products 

The NRDC asked companies a series of questions related to PFAS and their clothing items, including if they had policies that limit or prohibit PFAS use or had plans to eliminate the chemicals from their products.

Based on their answers, brands received a grade from the NRDC. 

Those receiving a failing grade included REI, Columbia Sportswear, Macy’s, Walmart, Nordstrom, Kate Spade, Under Armour, Skechers and Michael Kors. 

And ToxicFreeFuture.org found PFAS in pillow protectors from Amazon, mattress pads from Costco, stain-resistant bedding from Macy’s and a sheet set from Target. 

The results from testing may paint a grim picture of the chemicals Americans are consuming every day, but CR said levels of some substances were lower than when it tested similar products in 2009. 

It, ‘suggests that we are at least moving in the right direction on bisphenols,’ said Dr James Rogers, who oversees product safety testing at consumer Reports. 

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