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Pizza boxes come, typically, in one shape and many sizes, but when one lifts the lid to reveal the prize inside, there is a universal feeling of elation for those about to dine.But now, the US Food and Drug Administration is bringing some news that could taint memories of pizzas past and will change many pizza boxes of the future. According to Food Safety News, the FDA announced on Monday that it will publish a rule banning three chemicals commonly used in pizza boxes and other food packaging because they could cause cancer.
Another day, another food-related item added to the list of stuff that can kill you. With pizza boxes joining the possible-carcinogen rankings of well-done fries, burnt bread, red meat, and cured meats in the last few months alone, it can seem as if there is a bogeyman behind many of our favorite foods.At issue with pizza boxes are three types of a chemical known as perfluoroalkyl ethyl, which is used in food contact substances as an oil- and water-repellents. In pizza boxes, we're talking about the coating on the bottom of the pizza box that maintains the box's integrity in the face of a cheese and grease assault.A laundry list of health and environmental advocacy groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Food Safety, Clean Water Action, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest, had pushed for the ban."The FDA's ban is an important first step—but just a first step—toward improving the safety of our food supply," Erik Olson, the director of the National Resources Defense Council health program, said in a statement. "Now it should act on our petition to ban the seven other chemicals we believe—and government agencies such as the toxicology program at the National Institutes of Health have found—cause cancer."
This isn't the first time perfluoroalkyl and related polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have come under fire. According to The New York Times, previous incarnations of the PFASs currently in use were banned when studies found that they could linger in the human body for years, increasing the risk of cancer and magnifying other health risks. The decision was made over strong objections from the chemical manufacturer DuPont and the American Chemistry Council, who cited extensive studies published over the last decade to prove PFASs' safety.Pizza boxes aren't the only culprits when it comes to exposure to the chemicals. PFASs are found in thousands of household products, including cell phones, shoes, backpacks, electronics, tents, and firefighter gear.The FDA's plan hasn't taken effect yet, but when it does, it's unclear what will step in for the anti-sogginess role perfluoroalkyl ethyl plays in our pizza boxes. If your pizza shows up at the door as a greasy, wilted mess over the next few months, they're probably still working on it.