Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s face packaging scandal

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Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s face packaging scandal

12/13/2018
Grocers pressured to remove some takeout containers from stores

Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe’s have taken steps to remove takeout containers treated with potentially harmful chemicals in response to a study by an advocacy group, according to the Business Journals.

The organization Safer Chemicals Healthy Families issued a report in conjunction with Toxic-Free Future showing that nearly two-thirds of paper takeout containers likely contain chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which have been found to contaminate drinking water, according to a press release.

Whole Foods Market, which is owned by Amazon, said in response that it would remove the takeout containers from its stores and actively work with its suppliers to find new packaging options.

"Whole Foods Market introduced compostable containers to reduce our environmental footprint, but given new concerns about the possible presence of PFAS, we have removed all prepared foods and bakery packaging highlighted in the report," the company said in a emailed statement to Bloomberg.

The Safer Chemicals Healthy Families organization said exposure to PFAS can harm the immune system and liver and can be a contributing cause of some cancers, according to a press release. The chemicals are used for waterproofing or non-stick coating some carryout boxes and bakery and deli papers.

Kroger, Ahold Delhaize, and Albertsons were also included in the study and at least one product from the large grocery chains tested positive for having high fluorine content. Trader Joe’s was the only retailer without a high fluorine content in any of its products, according to Newsweek.

Trader Joe’s said it "asking its vendors to avoid the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in packaging for our products," per Chemical Watch.

Safer Chemicals thanked Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s for taking the initial steps but urged the chains to “finish the job” by banning PFAS in all food-contact material.

“We give Whole Foods kudos for taking this notable initial action. We think this is an important step in the right direction,” Safer Chemicals said in a statement. “However, it falls short of a full ban of all PFAS-containing food contact materials, as PFAS are likely hiding in other products and packaging found at Whole Foods and other grocery stores.”

To read The Business Journals article, click here.

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