Much of America’s pet food packaging could be contaminated with PFAS “forever chemicals”, creating a potentially dangerous exposure to the toxic compounds for cats and dogs.
In a recent study public health advocate the Environmental Working Group (EWG) checked 11 bags of pet food and found that all of them contained the substance, including several at extremely high levels.
“This represents a significant source of PFAS in the home environment,” said Sydney Evans, a science analyst with the EWG.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 12,000 compounds used to make products resist water, stains and heat. They’re called “forever chemicals” because they don’t naturally break down, accumulating in humans and animals. PFAS are linked to a range of serious health problems like cancer, birth defects, kidney disease and liver disease.
The chemicals are likely used in pet food bags to make them repel grease. For cats, the highest levels were detected in the Meow Mix Tender Centers salmon and chicken flavors dry cat food, at more than 600 parts per million (ppm). Purina Cat Chow Complete chicken showed over 350 ppm, while Blue Buffalo, Iams and Rachael Ray Nutrish all had levels of less than 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 foods made by Purina, Iams and Pedigree had much lower amounts. While some of the PFAS levels are considered by public health advocates to be high, no legal framework to measure it exists.
The study did not check the pet food for PFAS, though based on past research that found the chemicals leached from fast food wrappers into human food, it’s likely that the chemicals are contaminating the products, the EWG said. The chemicals can also separate from bags and end up in homes.
No “top pet food manufacturers” appear to have committed publicly to stop using PFAS in their packaging, the report states. Despite pressure from public health advocates, the Food and Drug Administration has refused to ban the use of PFAS in food packaging, and efforts to do so via legislation have died in Congress.
“We need strong new state and federal actions to eliminate sources of PFAS pollution … and end unnecessary uses of PFAS in pet food packaging and in products found in and around the home,” Evans said.