By Callie Lyons, email@example.com
Is there a C8-related chemical wrapped around your
cheeseburger? With the PFOA family of manufacturing
chemicals under investigation by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, a Washington, D.C.-based scientific
research group thinks consumers have a right to know the
The Teflon-related chemical C8 has been a topic of
interest in the Mid-Ohio Valley since it was first detected in
Washington County water supplies in January 2002, likely a
result of emissions from the DuPont Washington, W.Va., Works
plant across the Ohio River from western Washington County.
DuPont officials say the chemical presents no harm for
humans, but it has been found to cause reproductive and
developmental problems in laboratory animals. The EPA is
trying to gather more information about the chemical through a
process of voluntary agreements with industry for testing.
The Environmental Working Group is asking several popular
fast food companies to disclose whether the food packaging
products they use contain a chemical coating made of
Some consumers such as Debra Cochran of Pageville, in Meigs
County, thinks fast food companies should release the
"When you are a parent, you think of these things," Cochran
said. "If I only ate (in a restaurant) once a year I would
still want to know which products may even have a chance of
being related (to C8)."
Food packaging and containers which are suspect include
french fry boxes, sandwich wrappers, pizza boxes, and a
variety of other chemically coated paper products.
The group suspects many types of food packaging commonly
used by fast food restaurants are coated with chemicals that
perform similarly to those found in the non-stick substance
known as Teflon. C8 is used in the Teflon
making process. They also believe chemically treated food
packaging could be a possible pathway for the human delivery
of the chemical, which is found in the bloodstream of more
than 90 percent of Americans.
Fluorinated telomers, commonly found in grease- and
stain-repellent products, do not contain PFOA (the other name
for C8), but studies indicate they
can biodegrade into PFOA.
DuPont officials believe the environmental group's request
is "largely misleading and inaccurate as it relates to PFOA
and fluorinated compounds."
"While we will not respond to the specifics of our concerns
with the letter, we are communicating with our customers to
assure them that our products are safe for continued use by
consumers," said Clif Webb, DuPont spokesman.
"Our safety assurances to customers serving the food
industry are based on extensive knowledge of the products we
sell and many years of regulatory review and approval by the
Federal government," Webb said.
Webb said DuPont grease-resistant products have been
studied for more than 35 years and have been found to be safe
for food contact use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Webb cited an April 14 statement from the United States EPA
that said it "does not believe there is any reason for
consumers to stop using any consumer or industrial product"
because of questions about PFOA. He said DuPont is supporting
the U. S. EPA's efforts to investigate the issue.
The EPA is working toward voluntary agreements with
industry representatives that would yield tests and results to
answer questions about the toxicity and fate of the chemical.
In other words, they are trying to find out which products
break down into C8.
The list of consumer products potentially affected by the
manufacturing chemical family includes thousands of items.
But, industry professionals are hesitant to indicate precisely
which products are effected, citing confidential business
information. So, in an attempt to gather information they
believe will be valuable to consumers, the Environmental
Working Group has asked nine fast-food chains to release
information about the paper products they use.
"Common chemicals used in food packaging, called
fluorinated telomers, can break down into PFOA, and are one of
the likely sources of the chemical in the human body," said
Ken Cook in the letters to representatives from the fast food
Although the letters were sent to company leaders on July
9, of the fast food corporations contacted, most who responded
were unaware of specifics regarding the types of packaging
products used in their restaurants.
Spokespeople from McDonald's Corp. in Oak Brook, Ill., and
Wendy's International, Inc., of Dublin, said they would have
to research the products used by their company and reply
Subway Restaurants spokesman Les Winograd said his company
has been looking into the issue since receiving the working
"We take this issue very seriously," Winograd said. "We are
checking with our suppliers to see what they have on their
Krispy Kreme spokesperson Brooke Smith reported her
company's packaging does not contain any fluorinated telomers.
"We use an all natural clay-based product," Smith said.
Burger King Corp. of Miami, declined to respond, as did
Yum! Brands, Inc., the company that operates Kentucky Fried
Chicken, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut.
The working group has not yet received any response to its