Risk could be off the menu.
Wendy’s is banning per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from consumer-facing food packaging. The restaurant has pledged to eliminate the potentially harmful chemicals from wrappers, containers and the like across the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2021.
Wendy's announced the news in its 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report, released last week. According to the memo, the chain famous for its square burgers is moving towards the "full elimination" of the PFAS from consumer-facing packaging in the two North American countries by the end of this year.
In August 2020, environmental advocacy groups Toxic-Free Future and Mind the Store released the findings of independent lab tests of fast food packaging. The test reportedly found toxic levels of PFAS (a group of man-made chemicals composed of non-biodegradable linked carbon and fluorine atoms) in some Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Burger King food packaging.
Wendy's was the fifth of the six restaurants tested to pledge to move to ban PFAS since March 2020, the nonprofit Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families reports. McDonald’s said it will phase out such fluorinated compounds by 2025, as advocates demand a speedier timeline. Meanwhile, Burger King has yet to make such a move on PFAS in packaging.
"Wendy’s announcement with its swift timeline is welcome progress as we work to end uses of ‘forever’ chemicals that contaminate drinking water and threaten the health of communities," Liz Hitchcock, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families director, said in a statement of the Wendy’s update. "We urge Congress to take further action to protect our families by quickly passing the Keep Food Containers Safe from PFAS Act (H.R. 2727), soon to be re-introduced by Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell."
In other sustainable packaging goals, Wendy’s has created a "restricted substances list" for the U.S., looking into strawless lids and testing new packaging concepts at a company-owned restaurant. In Canada, the chain is swapping plastic salad bags for paper and plastic stir sticks to birch wood stir sticks, per the report.
Looking ahead, Wendy's is also aiming to sustainably source 100% of its customer-facing packaging by 2026.
Fox News’ Jeanette Settembre contributed to this report.