A study found that cancer-causing chemicals—per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—have been found in U.S. milk, meat, and produce. The study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet been made public in the United States and was leaking after being presented at a scientific conference in Helsinki, Finland, last week. After the report was leaked, the FDA said it plans to release the findings and confirmed the contents of the report.
These chemicals are used in a large number of products, including food packaging. The FDA’s research showed that water contaminated with PFAS likely ends up in the food supply. Fourteen of 91 samples taken by the agency contained the chemicals, while almost half of all meat and seafood samples tested positive.
PFAS has been found in the water supply near military bases, airports that often use firefighting foam, and factories that manufacture products with PFAS. Produce for sale at a farmer’s market 10 miles from a PFAS production plant had traces of the chemical. In addition, testing from a dairy farm near an Air Force base in New Mexico found that water contamination from the base had reached the cows and their milk.
“It would take approximately 1.5 years to eliminate [PFAS] from the cow after a 30-day exposure period,” according to the study. However, the researchers said that these food sources that contained PFAS were “not likely to be a safety concern.”
The FDA plans to launch a website that shows “comprehensive information about FDA’s work looking into PFAS and recent early, preliminary survey findings” that were shared at the conference.
PFAS has been linked to kidney and thyroid cancers, as well as other conditions.