Perfluorinated Chemicals in Food

Perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) are man-made chemicals that are used in commercial and consumer products and also have a variety of industrial applications. Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is perhaps the most well-known PFC and has been used as, among other things, a water, stain, and oil repellent for textiles, carpet, and food packaging, a surfactant in the electroplating industry, and an additive in fire fighting foams. Due to their persistence and widespread use, PFCs have been detected at low concentrations in the environment, food, and in human blood in several different countries. Based on the information that is presently available, the low levels of PFCs that are present in some foods that are sold in Canada are well below levels that are anticipated to cause adverse health effects.

What is Health Canada Doing?

Health Canada has been monitoring the levels of certain PFCs in foods that are commercially sold in Canada as part of its ongoing Total Diet Study. As new information becomes available on the health effects associated with PFC exposure and the concentrations of PFCs in foods, Health Canada will update the human health risk assessment for PFCs in food. Certain PFCs, including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorinated carboxylic acids (PFCAs) and their precursors (including fluorotelomers) have been identified through the Government of Canada's Chemicals Management Plan (CMP) as " substances of interest". Health Canada has committed to reviewing the risks associated with selected PFCs in food.

What Can You Do?

Based on the results of Health Canada's human health risk assessment, the low levels of PFCs that are found in foods do not warrant dietary changes. Health Canada recommends that Canadians consume a variety of foods from each food group included in Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide.

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