FDA Says its Testing Found Levels of PFAS in Foods Not Enough to Cause Harm

In a press release on Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that as part of broad, ongoing testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food it found that PFAS levels in tested in a range of foods in the general U.S. diet are not sufficient to be a health risk to humans who eat the food. 

Results released along with the press release are reportedly similar to results the FDA has found in previous testing. The FDA found one sample of cod with PFAS levels, but determined the amount would not present a risk.  Previously, the study has shown two tilapia samples and one ground turkey sample with a similar level of PFAS. 

This was an update on testing the FDA performed “to better understand the occurrence of (PFAS) in the food supply. The agency used the Total Diet Study program to collect its data, the program monitors PFAS and other food contaminants. 

“The FDA’s work in this space is critically important to advance science and fill knowledge gaps about these chemicals and their occurrence in food. We’re committed to using all tools available to help ensure the food we consume is safe and doesn’t risk anyone’s health,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra in the press release.

The FDA explained that when levels of a chemical like PFAS is found in food, it uses “the best available current science” to determine if the levels might cause harm to human health, considering various factors like current tolerance levels, amounts of the food typically eaten, and levels of contaminants. 

“The U.S. food supply is among the safest in the world, and the available scientific evidence does not support avoiding particular foods because of concerns regarding PFAS exposure,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. According to Woodcock, the FDA began PFAS testing in 2019 and only 4 samples from the human food supply out of 300 samples have had any amounts of PFAS detected, and of those none were determined to be at a level that should cause concern. 

Reportedly, the FDA will run a targeted survey of PFAS in seafood since PFAS have been found in cod and tilapia, the results of the targeted survey will determine if more research is needed with a greater number of seafood samples. 

Multiple lawsuits have been filed regarding PFAS which were released in the environment through manufacturing and contaminated water or wildlife habitats. Various groups asked the FDA in June to take “aggressive action” to eliminate PFAS in food citing concerns that they may persist in the body.