The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a letter to the industry reminding businesses that only certain fluorinated polyethylene containers are allowed for food contact use. The letter is intended for food manufacturers that use these containers, as well as food packaging manufacturers that produce or distribute these types of containers. 

FDA took this step to ensure that food packaging manufacturers that produce, use, or distribute fluorinated polyethylene food contact containers are aware of the FDA’s regulation pertaining to requirements for fluorinating polyethylene containers used with food.

Recently, based on testing performed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FDA has become aware that certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can form and migrate from some fluorinated high-density polyethylene containers. EPA’s testing was conducted on containers that are not regulated by FDA (containers intended to hold mosquito-controlling pesticides not approved for direct use on food crops). FDA is concerned that such containers could also be used in contact with food. The specific PFAS detected in EPA’s testing are perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids.

Analytical studies indicate that fluorination processes that are not compliant with FDA regulations can result in the formation of certain types of PFAS, some of which are associated with adverse health effects.

Related: Read more on the issues of PFAS for the food industry here: The Growing Challenge of Safe Water for Use in Food Processing Operations