FDA finds PFAS in fish sticks, tuna and protein powder

August 30, 2021

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it detected PFAS chemicals in three of 167 nationally distributed processed foods tested for toxic PFAS chemicals.

PFAS are a family of thousands of manmade chemicals used since the 1940s to produce industrial products resistant to water, oil, grease and stains.

The chemicals have been linked to an increased risk of testicular and kidney cancer, tissue damage in the liver and multiple changes to the immune system and thyroid.

The agency tested the products for more than a dozen of thousands of PFAS chemicals, finding detectable levels in samples of fish sticks, canned tuna and protein powder.

Fish sticks tested positive for PFOS and PFNA, canned tuna tested positive for PFOS and PFDA and protein powder tested positive for PFOS, according to the FDA.

The agency did not release the brand names of the products it tested. The FDA also said sample sizes were limited and results cannot be used to draw definitive conclusions about PFAS levels in seafood in the general 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 FDA has tested a total of 440 food products for some PFAS chemicals in previous surveys.

In June, an FDA survey found PFOS and PFNA in one unidentified variety of baked cod. Previous surveys found PFOS in ground turkey and two varieties of frozen tilapia.

“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.”

The FDA said it would continue testing food products for PFAS chemicals.

FDA finds PFAS in fish sticks, tuna and protein powder