With people still hesitant about eating at Chipotle after the E. coli outbreak that stemmed from their locations almost three years, the Mexican fast food chain is about to be embroiled in another scandal. According to a study conducted by The New Food Economy, the “compostable” fiber bowls that Chipotle – and many other food stops, like Sweetgreen – use were found to contain the cancer-linked class of compounds, PFAS. PFAS are also dubbed “forever chemicals”, due to them lacking any foreseeable half-life. Therefore, not only are these containers harmful for those consuming food from them, they are also hazardous for the environment that they were initially intended to benefit. While many companies pledge to follow safe sustainable food packaging practices, sometimes corners are cut for convenience sake. For example, the PFAS are largely what provide the bowls with their durability. Independent assessors may let companies off the hook and deem their products compostable when that’s not really the case.
While there are no conclusive reports on what repercussions these bowls will have on public health, “the very worst PFAS chemicals are linked to a range of serious health outcomes, from colitis and thyroid disorders to kidney and testicular cancers”. Until this story develops more, be careful what and where you’re eating from. If you haven’t been avoiding Chipotle already, maybe now would be a good time to start.
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