Wrappers from eight brands of butter have detectable levels of total fluorine, an indicator of the group of chemicals known as PFAS, according to a new report from Mamavation.
Partnering with EHN.org, the environmental wellness blog and community had 32 wrappers from 22 brands tested by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified lab and found levels of total fluorine ranging from 11 parts per million to 112 ppm in 16 of the wrappers.
Fluorine is a strong indicator of “forever chemicals”— which have been linked to everything from cancer to birth defects to lower vaccine effectiveness.
EHN.org partially funded the testing and Pete Myers, chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, which publishes Environmental Health News, reviewed the findings. The report builds on EHN.org and Mamavation’s growing library of consumer products tested for evidence of PFAS, including products such as contact lenses, pasta and tomato sauces, sports bras, tampons, dental floss and electrolytes.
While many are aware of PFAS pollution in water, the testing finds that we’re also exposed by the things we wear or eat. You can explore more reporting from our collaboration with Mamavation: “PFAS on our shelves and in our bodies.”
Linda S. Birnbaum, scientist emeritus and former director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Toxicology Program and scholar at residence at Duke University, told Mamavation of the new findings: “It’s disappointing to see indications of PFAS in butter wrappers. In order to protect the public, PFAS should not be present in food packaging like butter wrappers. This is an important issue to tackle in the future in order to protect pregnant women and children from the potential pitfalls of PFAS. I highly recommend the industry fix this problem as soon as possible.”
Can PFAS get from packaging into our food?
Terrence Collins, Teresa Heinz professor of green chemistry & director of the Institute for Green Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, told Mamavation that “the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has known for decades that PFAS compounds in food wraps can migrate into our food.”
People who eat more takeout, fast food and pizza often have higher levels of PFAS in their bodies than people who regularly cook at home, according to a 2019 study.
“Those eight out of 22 butter brands still using PFAS found by Mamavation in their wraps should come to terms with the serious PFAS health threats … and get rid of PFAS compounds altogether in every aspect of their business,” Collins added.
What butter brands are PFAS-free?
Mamavation sent 32 butter wrappers from 22 brands for testing and half of the wrappers (from eight of the brands) had indications of PFAS. Some products were tested more than once and the results varied.
These brands had detectable levels of total fluorine: HEB Organic, Kate’s, Kerrygold, Kirkland, Maple Hill Organic, Miyokos, Organic Valley and Wegmans.
Mamvation also highlighted brands that had butter wrappers free from PFAS evidence, including 365 Whole Foods, Clover Sonoma, Horizon Organic, Nature’s Promise, Straus Family, Trader Joe’s and others.
See the full report at Mamavation.
Want to know more about PFAS? Check out our comprehensive guide.