Most of America’s pet food packaging may be contaminated with PFAS “forever chemicals,” creating potentially dangerous exposures to compounds toxic to cats and dogs.
In a recent study, the public health advocate Environmental Working Group (EWG) examined 11 bags of pet food and found that they all contained substances, many at high levels.
“This represents an important source of PFAS in the home environment,” said Sydney Evans, a science analyst at EWG.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of approximately 12,000 compounds used to make products resist water, stains, and heat. They are called “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down, accumulating in humans and animals. PFAS has been linked to a number of serious health problems such as cancer, birth defects, kidney disease and liver disease.
The chemicals in pet food bags are probably used to make them repel oil. For cats, the highest levels were found in Meow Mix Tender Center Salmon and Chicken Flavor Dry Cat Food at more than 600 parts per million (ppm). Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken showed higher than 350 ppm, while Blue Buffalo, Iams and Rachel Ray Nutrition all had levels below 100 ppm.
For dogs, Kibbles ‘n Bits Bacon and Steak flavor registered just under 600 ppm, followed by Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe at 150 ppm. Other dog food made by Purina, Iams and Pedigree contained very small amounts. While some PFAS levels are considered high by public health advocates, no legal framework exists to measure it.
The study did not examine pet food for PFAS, although based on previous research EWG said chemicals released from fast food wrappers got into human food, making it likely that the chemicals are contaminating the products. Chemicals can also separate from the bags and end up in homes.
The report states that no “top pet food manufacturers” have publicly committed to stop using PFAS in their packaging. Despite pressure from public health advocates, the Food and Drug Administration has refused to ban the use of PFAS in food packaging, and attempts to do so through legislation in Congress have died down.
“We need stronger new state and federal actions to eliminate the sources of PFAS pollution … and end the unnecessary use of PFAS in pet food packaging and products found in and around the home,” Evans said.