McDonald’s Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Use of PFAS Chemicals in Wrappers
McDonald’s faces a class action lawsuit that alleges the fast food giant conceals the use of toxic chemicals in food packaging, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which have been linked to the development of cancer and other reproduction and hormonal disruptions.
The complaint (PDF) was filed by Ken McDowell in the United States District Court Northern District of Illinois on March 31, indicating that McDonald’s falsely claims its food packaging is safe and sustainable in nature, when in fact, a recent report has found the products contain toxic chemicals that may contaminate consumers’ food.
PFAS are most known for their presence in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used by firefighters since the 1960s during training exercises and in response to certain fuel based fires. In recent years, former firefighters and families living near bases who have been exposed to PFASs have filed numerous firefighting foam lawsuits, which claim the chemical exposures caused testicular cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer and other injuries.
While the chemicals have been used in food packaging materials, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, fabrics, nonstick cooking pans, and others, many individuals have raised similar concerns in PFAS drinking water contamination lawsuits, claiming they have developed ulcerative colitis and/or certain cancer caused by high volumes of toxic PFAS chemicals being released into their local water supply.
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According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleges the fast food chain has put consumers at an increased risk of exposure to PFAS by using the synthetic chemicals, which may migrate from the packaging onto the food, exposing consumers to PFAS via ingestion.
McDowell’s complaint cites a recent report issued by the consumer watchdog group, Consumer Reports, which found 195.3 parts per million of total organic fluorine, which is used as an indication of the presence of PFAS chemicals, in McDonald’s food packaging. The lawsuit states the levels of PFAS in McDonald’s food packaging would “expose a consumer to PFAS at levels that are several orders of magnitude higher than one would receive from drinking a liter of water that contains PFAS at the level considered safe by the EPA.”
Specifically, the lawsuit points out Consumer Reports found extremely high levels of PFAS in the packaging of McDonald’s French fires, bags of cookies, chicken nuggets containers, and the container for its signature Big Mac.
The lawsuit also alleges McDonald’s has known of the PFAS in their product packaging for years, yet falsely and deceptively uses the Forest Stewardship Counsel’s (FSC) trademark, which leaves consumers to believe the packaging’s are safe, sustainable, and can be trusted.
“No reasonable consumer would expect that a product marketed as safe and sustainable would pose a risk to their health, safety, and wellbeing, or that it would contain dangerous PFAS, which are indisputably linked to harmful health effects in humans and the environment,” according to the complaint.
The lawsuit claims McDonald’s fraudulently misrepresents and omits information regarding harmful forever chemicals in the product packaging, for the purpose of reducing packaging costs and increasing profits, at the expense of their consumer’s health.
Class action status is sought to pursue damages for consumers who were impacted by the false and deceptive marketing and labeling of McDonald’s products, alleging the fast food giant of negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation, and fraudulent concealment, among other allegations.
Toxic Chemicals In Fast Food Packaging
PFAS were first introduced into the manufacturing industry in the 1940’s, because of their ability to resist heat, grease, stains, and water. However, since then exposure to PFAS chemicals have been linked to a myriad of adverse health effects including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer.
In a report about PFAS chemicals in fast food packaging published last week, Consumer Reports looked at more than 100 products from a variety of popular restaurants and chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Chic-fil-A and others, finding 37 products had levels of PFAS higher than the 20 parts per million, and 22 products had levels that exceeded 100 ppm.
Researchers found elevated levels of PFAS in paper bags, hamburger wrappers, fiber salad bowls and paper plates, among other packaging. Consumer Reports found that those who had committed to removing PFAS and promoted healthier lifestyles had lower levels, but they were still present.
In June 2019, a federal investigation found that PFAS chemicals are commonly found in numerous food products, including meats, seafood, chocolate, cake and other products. However, the FDA released a statement indicating that the levels found do not raise health concerns, based on the best available science.
KevinJuly 6, 2022 at 1:32 pm
McDonalds does not make the container nor is it illegal to make a container with PFAS. However it is not safe to put food on a container that is treated with PFAS for grease and moisture barrier properties. MOLDED Fiber trays used in school feeding programs are the largest user. Parents need to know if there school used fiber trays they are full of PFAS. New York , Miami Dade, Los Angeles, Portla[Show More]McDonalds does not make the container nor is it illegal to make a container with PFAS. However it is not safe to put food on a container that is treated with PFAS for grease and moisture barrier properties. MOLDED Fiber trays used in school feeding programs are the largest user. Parents need to know if there school used fiber trays they are full of PFAS. New York , Miami Dade, Los Angeles, Portland Oregon, Seattle and the list goes on.
BridgetJuly 4, 2022 at 9:04 am
Kimesha, No kidding me too! WTH
KimeshaApril 21, 2022 at 2:48 pm
I have eaten so much McDonald's in my lifetime how would I ever recover from this knowing that some issues that I was having far as my stomach goes could have been from this! My young siblings and other family members that I love has been harmed in a way that they have no understanding about.
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