Burger King commits to eliminating toxic “forever chemicals” in food packaging globally

Media Contacts
Emily Rogers

Former Zero Out Toxics, Advocate, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Taran Volckhausen

Former Communications Associate, The Public Interest Network

Health advocates call for restaurant industry to follow Burger King’s lead

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON D.C. — Restaurant Brands International (RBI), parent company of Burger King, Tim Hortons and Popeyes, announced Wednesday evening a new global commitment to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging used in its restaurants by 2025. PFAS are used to coat certain food packaging to make it grease-resistant. These chemicals have been linked to high cholesterol, kidney and liver problems, low birth weight and cancer. Recent research has also found a potential link between PFAS exposure and more severe COVID-19 symptoms, as well as reduced vaccine effectiveness. 

PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down and can build up in our bodies and the environment. When PFAS are used in food packaging, the chemicals can leach from the packaging into the food, and then into our bodies when we eat it. The chemicals also leach into our soil and drinking water when we throw away the packaging.

In 2020, two advocacy groups, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future, tested food packaging from three fast food restaurants, including Burger King, and three health food chains. They found evidence that packaging from all six businesses was likely treated with PFAS. The three health food chains committed to phase out PFAS-treated food packaging. Burger King is the third and final fast food restaurant in the report to take action.

In response to Burger King’s announcement, Emily Rogers, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s Zero Out Toxics advocate, released the following statement:

“We applaud Burger King for taking this step to protect its consumers and urge other restaurants to follow suit. Burger King’s commitment will prevent their customers from unknowingly ingesting PFAS chemicals while they are enjoying their breakfast, lunch or dinner. With virtually all Americans already having PFAS in their blood, there’s no time to waste in stopping the use of PFAS wherever possible. Afterall, using PFAS to prevent greasy fingers isn’t worth the risk to our health or the environment that these toxic ‘forever chemicals’ pose.”