Manufacturers use thousands of potentially toxic chemicals, called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), in products ranging from pet food bags to ammunition, climbing ropes, guitar strings and artificial turf. In pet food bags, PFAS help paper bags resist fats and oils, and otherwise keep products fresh. Scientists have identified health risks from some PFAS, such as increased testicular and kidney cancer risk and infertility. Along with their ubiquity, the problem arises from how slowly PFAS break down in the environment and in animals’ bodies. People and animals absorb PFAS, and the chemicals remain in their bodies for many years, if not life.
The Environmental Working Group may have identified PFAS on 11 packages from seven pet food brands purchased at mass market retailer Walmart. However, the Group noted that the PFAS had not been identified in the pet foods themselves. The Group contracted an independent laboratory to test for the presence of fluorine in the packaging. Fluorine can serve as a marker for PFAS, but does not prove the presence of the chemicals. Further testing identified specific PFAS present on the pet food packaging.
PFAS found on pet food bags
“The tests uncovered individual PFAS in some of the pet food bags: the chemicals PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA, PFHpA, x62FTCA, x62diPAP and PFPrA,” Environmental Working Group analysts wrote in a news release.
Bags from Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken had the highest concentration of total PFAS, at 245 parts per billion (ppb). Packaging of Kibbles n’ Bits Bacon and Steak flavor, with nearly 15 ppb total PFAS, was second. The other bags tested had less than 15 ppb total PFAS.
Considering cat food packaging, Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon and Chicken Flavors Dry Cat Food contained more than 600 ppm of flourine. Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken packaging had more than 310 ppm. Three other cat food products, Blue Buffalo, Iams and Rachael Ray Nutrish, all had fluorine levels under 100 ppm.
Among dog food packages, Kibbles n’ Bits Bacon and Steak flavor contained just under 600 ppm of total fluorine, followed by Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe food, with just over 150 ppm. Other dog foods packages from Purina, Iams and Pedigree had much lower amounts of total fluorine detected.