Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday urged the Food and Drug Administration to launch an investigation into the possible use of chemicals in the packaging of fast foods, that can have a detrimental effect on people’s health.

It is no secret that fast food has a negative impact on one’s health. Schumer, however, pointed out that the packaging in which fast foods like burgers, hot dogs, fried chicken and french fries are wrapped in, is harmful to one’s health too.

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The New York senator picked out a specific chemical called phthalates, used in food packaging that has been traced to both reproductive and developmental issues. “According to the Journal of Medicine, people – especially kids – who consume a lot of fast food have dangerous levels of phthalates in their system,” Schumer said, CBS New York reported.

Schumer added that phthalates have been prohibited from items such as children’s furniture and baby bottles. It is time to test how the inclusion of phthalates in fast food packaging can affect the health of adults, Schumer stressed, as they continue to be used in order to make plastic containers more flexible.

“There are substitutes for phthalates that are not harmful and can be used in packaging and that's what we want the FDA to look at,” he said, Fox 5 reported. 

A 2017 study, done by researchers from Silent Spring Institute, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Notre Dame and other institutions, published in the journal “Environmental Science & Technology Letters” found that among 400 fast food packages surveyed from restaurants in the country, 33 percent of them contained some form of the chemical fluorine.

Since fluorine has been linked to harmful chemicals such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), Laurel Schaider, a research scientist with the Silent Spring Institute and the lead study author said: “The fact that they’re so prevalent is worrisome. Millions of Americans, including children, eat fast food every day.”

PFASs were discovered in a set of 20 food packages analyzed in the study while six out of them contained PFOA. While PFASs have been linked to certain kinds of cancers, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, hypertension in pregnancy, low birth weight, and damaged immune systems, PFOA has been linked to an array of other harmful diseases. While the use of PFOA has been banned by many fast food brands, PFASs continue to be used for the purpose of making food packages water and grease proof.

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“We’ve all heard that eating more fresh foods is better for our health for a wide range of reasons,” Schaider added, Consumer Reports reported. “This study provides another reason why.”

Lynn Dyer, president of the Foodservice Packaging Institute, however, said that all chemicals used in food packaging “go through rigorous testing to ensure that they meet stringent U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations, providing the safe delivery of foods and beverages to consumers.”