Press Release

Disclosures: Mayne and Woodcock are employees of the FDA.
August 27, 2021
2 min read

FDA finds no evidence of dangerous PFAS levels in processed foods


Press Release

Disclosures: Mayne and Woodcock are employees of the FDA.
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The FDA has found no evidence indicating that levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in processed foods warrant avoidance, according to a press release.

The analysis was based on results from the FDA’s first survey of nationally distributed processed foods that were collected from the agency’s Total Diet Study.

Ultra-processed foods
The FDA said it found no evidence of dangerous PFAS levels in a sample of nationally distributed processed foods. Source: Adobe Stock

“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,” Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in the release. “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.”

Since 2019, the FDA has analyzed 440 food samples from the Total Diet Study, according to the release.

In its most recent food sample, the FDA collected staples that are common to the average U.S. diet based on food consumption surveys, including baby food, frozen foods and canned, boxed or jarred food.

Out of 167 foods tested, 164 had “no detectable levels of PFAS,” the FDA said. The three foods that did have detectable levels were fish sticks, canned tuna and protein powder.

In previous samples, the FDA had found “detectable levels of PFAS in certain seafood” as well. However, the “results cannot be used to draw definitive conclusions about levels of PFAS in seafood in the general food supply,” according to the release.

The FDA said its analysis is based on the “best available current science.”

According to the EPA, PFAS, which are manmade chemicals, do not break down in the human body and can “lead to adverse human health effects.” As previously reported by Healio, these effects can include reduced executive function in school-age children and endocrine disruption that may drive cancer, diabetes, infertility, obesity and osteoporosis. Beyond exposure to PFAS from everyday items and foods, individuals can also be exposed to the chemicals from drinking water contamination.

“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,” Janet Woodcock, MD, acting commissioner of the FDA, said in the release.


EPA. Basic information on PFAS. Accessed August 26, 2021.

FDA. FDA releases PFAS testing results from first survey of nationally distributed processed foods. Accessed August 26, 2021.