In a major victory for Clean Water Action and the Mind the Store campaign, Burger King has announced a ban on toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in their food packaging by 2025. This is part of a larger decision by Burger King’s parent company Restaurant Brands International (RBI) which includes Popeyes and Tim Hortons in response to independent studies in 2018 and 2020 finding elevated levels of PFAS in packaging from over 100 food products. Globally RBI is the seventh largest food retailer, and Burger King is the second largest fast food company.
We'd like to thank Clean Water Action members and our allies for taking action over the course of this campaign. We are especially grateful to the members who picked up the phone and called Burger King’s headquarters as well as those who voiced their concerns at their local Burger King locations. Clean Water Action’s campaign to ban PFAS nationwide would not be generating the same momentum without you!
RBI’s announcement follows similar commitments made by McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle, and others demonstrating that PFAS free packaging in the food industry is not only a necessary move, but an achievable one. Clean Water Action joins our allies in thanking Burger King for taking this step and urging them to move up their timeline from 2025 to 2023 to achieve this shift as communities have already been exposed to toxic PFAS for far too long!
This victory affects us all, even if you don't eat at Burger King, because of the life span of such products and how PFAS chemicals persist in our air and water through landfill leaching and trash incineration. Towns with such disposal services are at a higher risk for PFAS exposure far after consumers finish their Burger King Whopper and throw the wrapper “away”. As a “forever chemical” PFAS is non-combustible and does not biodegrade causing it to remain in our bodies and environment and build up to increasingly toxic levels which in turn cause various cancers, and developmental delays.
This corporate level victory is part of Clean Water Action’s three-pronged approach to ban PFAS nation-wide. We have been working at the corporate, state, and federal level to keep our communities safe from these toxic chemicals, helping enact statewide PFAS policies in CA, CT and MA. With CA, CT, ME, MN, NY, VT, and WA enacting phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging, as well as 21 food giants demonstrating their commitment to do the same, this bolsters our work at the Federal level to pass (S. 3169, H.R. 6026) showing a shared goal from citizens and corporations alike.
In addition, a new investigation from Consumer Reports, “Dangerous PFAS Chemicals Are in Your Food Packaging” found PFAS in most of the food wrappers and packaging from chain restaurants and grocery stores that were tested. The bottom line: our food should not come packaged with toxic PFAS chemicals!
Join us in taking action to protect our communities from toxic PFAS chemicals around the country. Check out our nationwide and state-focused actions below.
Massachusetts: Tell legislators to get toxic PFAS out of consumer products.
Jen Loveland-Rose is a Field Manager for our Rhode Island office.