“Forever Chemicals” Banned from Food Packaging in California

by Marissa Sheldon, MPH
forever chemicals

Part of the Food Policy Snapshot Series

Policy name: California Safer Food Packaging and Cookware Act of 2021

Overview: The California Assembly has approved a bill that will ban PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), also known as toxic “forever chemicals,” from food packaging and will require warning labels on cookware that contain them. 

Location: California

Population: 39.6 million

Food policy category: Food supply and distribution, preventive health

Program goals: To remove toxic chemicals from the environment, to protect wildlife and water supplies, and to protect human health. 

How it works: PFAS help to make materials non-stick, as well as grease- and water-resistant. Starting on January 1, 2023, PFAS will be banned from paper-based food packaging such as paper wrappers, liners, bags, sleeves, plates, bowls, straws, and takeout containers. Then, starting January 1, 2024, cookware manufacturers will be required to label their products to disclose the presence of harmful chemicals, including PFAS and BPA (Bisphenol A)

Progress to date: The bill was introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting in February 2021, passed in the Senate on September 3 and in the Assembly on September 7. It was sent to Governor Gavin Newsom for signing on September 13.

Why it is important: PFAS are man-made chemicals that do not break down and may have adverse effects on human health. Not only do PFAS leach into the food with which they come in contact, but they can also infiltrate the air, soil, and water supplies when disposed of in landfills. PFAS exposure has been associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, certain types of cancer, thyroid disruption, and, in children, a decreased vaccine response. 

Program/Policy initiated: The PFAS ban on paper products will go into effect in January 2023. 

Point of contact: N/A

Similar practices: California is one of several states that have recently banned PFAS from food packaging, along with Connecticut, Maine, New York, Vermont, and Washington

Evaluation: Evaluation has not yet been conducted. 

Learn more: 


Related Articles

Subscribe To Weekly NYC Food Policy Watch Newsletter
Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news, reports and event information
No Thanks
Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.