5 Sept 2018
San Francisco Bans PFAS Chemicals in Food Service Ware
The City of San Francisco, California’s fourth largest, has banned effective from 1 January 2020 the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom (PFAS) in single-use food service ware. The term “food service ware” is defined in Ordinance 201-18 as food contact products that are designed for a single use for prepared foods such as containers, bowls, trays, cups, lids, straws, forks, spoons, knives, napkins and other similar items. Food service ware includes food service ware accessories (i.e., all types of single-use items usually provided alongside prepared food in single-use plates or cups, including utensils, chopsticks, napkins, cup lids, cup sleeves, food or beverage trays, condiment packets and saucers, straws, stirrers, splash sticks, cocktail sticks and toothpicks) but does not include items made entirely of aluminium or polystyrene foam coolers and ice chests.
The San Francisco ordinance states that PFAS are synthetic chemicals commonly used in and on single-use service ware products to repel water and grease. A 2018 Center for Environmental Health study found that 57 percent of tested food service ware contained significant levels of fluorinated chemicals. Fluorinated chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment, leach into food and can be taken up from soil into food. In 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rescinded its approval for use of three such fluorinated chemicals from food contact materials due to associated heightened risks of cancer, toxicity and other health effects. San Francisco officials believe other PFAS chemicals may pose similar risks because they have similar chemical structures.