Will You Be Able To Avoid Foods With Pfas?

Kale is considered one of the healthiest foods available in U.S. grocery stores. However, a new study has revealed that not even these leafy superfoods are safe from contamination by toxic chemicals. A small pilot study found that seven or eight kale samples purchased from different stores across the U.S. were contaminated with poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

This article will cover how PFAS can get into your food and how it affects your health.

How Did PFAS Wind Up in Kale?

PFAS are known for their water-, heat -, and grease-resistant properties. These chemicals are commonly used in waterproof clothing, nonstick cookware, and cosmetics. When these goods are manufactured and disposed of in landfills, PFAS can leach into waterways and soil.

It is unclear whether the kale samples tested were watered with contaminated water or grown in sludge. However, Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D., a senior scientist specializing in PFAS at the Environmental Working Group, said it is possible that the kale picked up PFAS from the plastic packaging they were sold in.

Can You Avoid PFAS in Food?

It is possible that other food sources may contain even more PFAS. For instance, one serving of freshwater fish can contain the same amount of PFAS as a month’s drinking water supply. Additionally, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, fast food containers, and other grease- and water-resistant food packaging is often full of PFAS.

Certain states have banned using PFAS in food packaging but there are no federal regulations yet. That said, Stoiber said you can avoid it by eating fresh whole food like kale. This is because packaged foods are the ones that could contain extremely high levels of PFAS due to grease-proof paper.

She also said this recommendation holds despite the new study findings. That said, multiple scientists still don’t know about the pervasiveness of PFAS in produce and the food system at large.

In the meantime, there is no definite way to clean PFAS from food. However, one study discovered cooking fish in large amounts of water or oil for a long time and disregarding the cooking liquid could remove some PFAS.


It is nearly impossible to avoid PFAS exposure completely. However, you can reduce exposure by avoiding nonstick cookware, PFAS-treated clothing, and fast food from companies that use PFAS. For more information, you can contact your doctor for PFAS-free products you can use.