The California state Senate voted Friday in favor of the Safer Food Packaging and Cookware Act. The bill, which will head to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk after a concurence vote in the State Assembly, bans PFAS in paper food packaging, requires disclosure of toxic chemicals in cookware and bakeware, and prohibits misleading advertising about chemicals in cookware.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of thousands of chemicals that have been found in many types of food packaging, including microwave popcorn bags, some fast food wrappers and many compostable containers. Research has linked these chemicals to serious health risks, including liver damage, birth defects and cancer.
Currently, manufacturers are able to claim that products are “PFOA-free” or “toxin-free” if the products lack certain ingredients such as PFOA, a specific type of PFAS, even if they contain other, very similar chemicals, such as other types of PFAS. This bill would ban that practice.
The bill would also require manufacturers to disclose on the packaging for cookware and bakeware products all potentially hazardous, intentionally added chemicals that are present in the final product. Further, manufacturers would be required to provide a link and QR code to connect consumers with more information on these chemicals.
In response, Jenn Engstrom, CALPIRG’s state director, and Emily Rogers, PIRG’s Zero Out Toxics advocate, released the following statements:
“Parents shouldn’t need to spend their time researching every piece of cookware they buy or wonder whether a takeout container is going to threaten their kids’ health,” Engstrom said. “Every Californian deserves to know whether toxic chemicals are in products that are coming into contact with their food. Without that vital information, it’s incredibly difficult to make the best decisions for their health. I’m grateful for the leadership of Assembly members Phil Ting and Laura Friedman, who introduced this bill, and I commend the California state Senate for passing it.”
“There is no reason why toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, birth defects and other serious health problems should be anywhere near our food,” Rogers said. “And yet, PFAS have been permitted in our food packaging and have been allowed to hide underneath greenwashed labels that leave even the most savvy customers feeling lost and confused. Today’s vote puts us one step closer to putting an end to that, and is a victory for public health.”