FDA Announces the Chemicals Used for Pizza Boxes Are No Longer Safe

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday its move to ban three chemical substances typically used “as oil and water repellents for paper and paperboard for use in contact with aqueous and fatty foods.”

The new proposal would affect pizza lovers nationwide, as the substances in question are commonly used to keep grease from escaping pizza boxes.

A filing in the Federal Register lists the three health-harming chemicals (caution: science geeks only):

1. Diethanolamine salts of mono- and bis (1 H, 1 H, 2 H, 2 H perfluoroalkyl) phosphates where the alkyl group is even-numbered in the range C8-C18 and the salts have a fluorine content of 52.4 percent to 54.4 percent as determined on a solids basis

2. Pentanoic acid, 4,4-bis [(gamma-omega-perfluoro-C8-20-alkyl)thio] derivatives, compounds with diethanolamine (CAS Reg. No. 71608-61-2)

3. Perfluoroalkyl substituted phosphate ester acids, ammonium salts formed by the reaction of 2,2-bis[([gamma], [omega]-perfluoro C4-20 alkylthio) methyl]-1,3-propanediol, polyphosphoric acid and ammonium hydroxide.

The FDA asserted that “there is no longer a reasonable uncertainty of no harm from the food contact use” of the substances. The filing mentions the dangers of biopersistence, or the accumulation of the chemicals the body isn’t able to digest completely.

The FDA’s petition — submitted by various organizations such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, the Breast Cancer Fund, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children’s Environmental Health Network, Environmental Working Group and others — cites potential reproductive and developmental risk described in a 2010 FDA review.

The rule took effect Monday, though objections to the FDA’s amendment may be filed through Feb. 3.