Making Mealtime Meaningful: Discover how we're giving back with the 12T Cares program →

In this day and age forever is never really forever, unless you’re talking about PFAS. This anti-grease chemical covers and coats more than you’d like to know. And while you think you can avoid it, it’s quite hard to do so. Fast food wrappers, folded paper takeout containers, microwave popcorn bags, and bakery cake bases are all found to have PFAS. Even if you don’t consume these sorts of products, discarded wrappers containing PFAS can leach into the water and soil, especially in places where the substance is manufactured. The rate of exposure and transmission into the human body is quite high and has been found in breast milk in one study. Exposure to PFAS has been linked to immune system problems, cancer, and low birth weight. Yet the story of PFAS changed when the FDA finally decided to ban the production and application of PFAS in food contact substances.

Via: tirc83/iStock

This decision took a long time to get to. In 2016, the FDA started banning PFAS in the form of PFOS and PFOA— but manufacturers had already switched to newer compounds of PFAS. Yet these newer forms weren’t any better. Ones like 6:2 FTOH were known to enter into the body and stay there for a long time, causing a variety of health issues.

Via: pablohart/iStock

Some states like California and New York have outright banned PFAS, but it is a chemical that is hard to restrict at a state level. Luckily, the communication and cooperation between the FDA and manufacturers has led to this year’s final decision to cease manufacturing and application of grease-coating of products directly in contact with food. While the ban happened this year, PFAS-containing items are still on the market as manufacturers are using up the supplies but are refilling the supplies with non-PFAS-containing items.

While many consider this ban a win for public health, many health experts are frustrated at the slow rate the ban commenced, as the health risks had been known for quite some time.