By Callie Lyons, firstname.lastname@example.org
McDonald's corporation officials confirmed the suspicion of
an environmental research group that a C8-related chemical is
widely used in fast food packaging throughout the industry.
The information may eventually help scientists explain how the
manufacturing chemical they call PFOA has found its way into
the bloodstream of more than 90 percent of Americans. "As
is the case throughout the food service industry, our
suppliers use telomers in limited coating applications for
some of our packaging," said Julie Pottebaum, McDonald's
The McDonald's Corporation is one of four fast food chains
responding to a challenge from the Environmental Working Group
based in Washington, D.C., to release information about the
types of chemically coated food packaging material used in
their restaurants. A total of nine popular restaurant
corporations were asked for the information, but most were
unprepared to answer questions about their chemically coated
"The EPA has communicated that it does not believe there is
any reason for consumers to stop using any consumer- or
industrial-related products," Pottebaum said. "McDonald's
packaging is in complete compliance with all regulations of
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency. We look to these experts for
direction and leadership on these matters."
The scientific research and advocacy coalition known as the
Environmental Working Group is closely following the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's investigation of the
manufacturing chemical PFOA, locally familiar by the DuPont
trade name C8.
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 plant in Washington,
W.Va., across the Ohio River from western Washington County.
People who live in the affected areas, such as Debra Cocran
of Pageville, were upset to discover the presence of C8 in their water systems last
year and can't help but wonder how else they might be exposed
to the manufacturing chemical.
"I don't eat a lot of fast food, but I want to know what
products may be related," Cochran said.
DuPont officials are assuring their customers of the safety
of their products. They say the chemical presents no harm to
humans, but it has been found to cause reproductive and
developmental problems in laboratory animals.
"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," said DuPont spokesman Clif Webb in a
statement released last week.
The Environmental Working Group has long suspected that
many types of food packaging commonly used by fast food
restaurants are coated with chemicals called fluorinated
telomers, which perform similarly to those found in the
non-stick substance known as Teflon. C8 is used to manufacture
fluorinated polymers such as Teflon. While fluorinated
telomers, commonly found in grease- and stain-repellent
products, do not contain PFOA or C8, studies indicate they can
biodegrade into PFOA.
As part of its ongoing investigation, the EPA is working
toward voluntary agreements with industry representatives that
would yield tests to answer questions about the toxicity and
fate of the manufacturing chemical PFOA. Specifically, they
are trying to discover the pathways that have already led to
prevalent detectable exposure throughout the U.S. population.