The "molded fiber" dish that has become a staple in restaurants and choice of takeout packaging has been found to contain carcinogens, according to a recent study.
Fast, casual restaurants like Chipotle and Sweetgreen have long advertised these dishes as environmentally friendly and 100 percent compostable.
"In short, it's a good product that works for the operator – less waste, halo branding, a product that makes the guest feel good," said Arlene Spiegel, a New York City-based food service consultant .
However, a study by New Food Economy indicates that all molded fiber balls contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) ̵
These compounds are sometimes called "forever chemicals" for their long-standing properties that allow them to "keep warm, wet and oily foods, which would [normally] destroy paper products," the study found.
Buns were tested from 14 locations by eight different New York City restaurants, including Chipotle and Sweetgreen. Each sample tested contained high levels of fluorine, indicating treatment with PFAS compounds, Notre Dame chemist Graham Peaslee tells The New Food Economy.
"Any product containing PFAS cannot really be compostable, let alone biodegradable, despite the restaurant's claims to the contrary," emphasized New Food Economy, adding that even though "fiber products" has the benefits of a greenhouse gas when it comes to emissions, the dishes we tested are likely to deteriorate soil and water quality. " , according to a study published in environmental and science technology letters.
Many people have commented on social media, including the rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., Who said "we need to do more to regulate PFAS chemicals."
"As stated in Chipotle's Sustainability Report, we are committed to using safe and sustainable food packaging and only partner with suppliers that make fluorochemical sciences and food safety a top priority," Chipotle told FOX Business in a statement. "These suppliers operate under strict FDA guidelines, and have all provided Chipotle certification that all raw materials and finished pulp products meet regulatory requirements," confirming that 100 percent of their bowls are made of compostable, plant-based fiber.
Sweetgreen did not respond to FOX Business & # 39; s request for comment.
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Earlier this year, Congress introduced a bill to ban the use of PFAS in some paper food containers, according to People.
Despite this, fiber balls are still used – New Food Economy notes in its study that there is "no commercially viable plan B" for restaurants such as Sweetgreen and Chipotle.