Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released the results of the first survey of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in nationally distributed processed foods, including several processed baby foods, collected from the agency’s Total Diet Study (TDS), which monitors levels of nutrients and contaminants in foods consumed in the U.S. PFAS are chemicals found in a number of consumer and industrial products because of their resistance to grease, oil, water and heat.
Results of this survey showed that 164 of the 167 foods tested had no detectable levels of PFAS. Three food samples collected as part of the FDA’s latest testing effort had detectable levels of PFAS: fish sticks, canned tuna and protein powder. Based on the best available current science, the FDA has no scientific evidence that the levels of PFAS found in the samples tested indicate a need to avoid any particular food in the food supply.
“The FDA’s testing for certain PFAS in such a wide range of foods available, including those commonly eaten by babies and young children, is among the first study of its kind,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “Although our studies to date, including these newly released results, do not suggest that there is any need to avoid particular foods because of concerns regarding PFAS contamination, the FDA will continue our work to better understand PFAS levels in the foods we eat to ensure the U.S. food supply continues to be among the safest in the world.”
The foods collected for the TDS represent the major components of the average diet of the U.S. population based on results of the national food consumption surveys. The newly released results are from a survey that included nationally distributed processed foods, including certain baby foods, frozen foods and foods in cans, boxes or jars, which are less likely to vary by location or time of year and are generally considered non-perishable.
“Through testing foods in the general food supply for PFAS, consulting with states in circumstances where there may be local contamination of foods, and optimizing our methods for testing, the FDA is making progress in better understanding dietary exposure,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “As we continue to collect and analyze the data being generated, we are in a better position to determine how to strategically and effectively work with our state and federal partners to reduce dietary exposure to PFAS.”
Since 2019, the FDA has analyzed 440 TDS samples for certain PFAS from four collections (three regional and one national). Previously posted TDS survey results were from three regional collections and included foods that are more likely to vary by location or time of year, such as fresh produce, meats and dairy products. The samples in the recent analysis were not specifically collected from areas of known environmental PFAS contamination.
While the FDA found detectable levels of PFAS in certain seafood samples in this survey, and in previous ones, the sample sizes are limited, and the results cannot be used to draw definitive conclusions about the levels of PFAS in seafood in the general food supply. Importantly, as previously announced, the FDA is conducting a targeted survey of the most commonly consumed seafood in the U.S. Results from the targeted seafood survey will be used to determine if additional sampling, either targeted or with greater numbers of samples of fish and shellfish, is needed.
The FDA will continue to provide additional updates on its ongoing sampling and testing efforts designed to better understand the occurrence of PFAS in the food supply.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.