Study: Restaurant food, takeout meals may expose you to more toxic chemicals

Consumer Reports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – We all know there are a lot of good reasons to eat more fresh foods and home-cooked meals. And now, new research indicates we’ve got one more.

Scientists found restaurant food and takeout meals may be serving up extra helpings of certain toxic chemicals.

Like many moms, Janna Wohl sees a home-cooked dinner as a chance to know exactly what her kids are eating.

“I make them something that’s fresh, organic, has no additives, colors, there’s a vegetable, there’s something green,” Wohl said.

Now, Wohl has one more reason to cook at home. 

A new study found eating out and getting takeout may expose you to more of a group of toxic chemicals called PER and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

“PFAS are what’s known as forever chemicals. And that’s because they essentially never break down naturally. So, once they’re made, they just accumulate in the environment, they end up in our water supply, they end up in our food and they end up in us,” said Keven Loria with Consumer Reports Health Editor.

At high levels of exposure, some PFAS chemicals have been linked to serious health problems including an increased risk of cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and growth and learning delays in babies and children. 

“What this study did show is that people who cooked at home more, had lower levels of PFAS in their blood than people that ate out more frequently,” Loria said.

There are several things you can do to limit your exposure. 

To start, consume more fresh food. And when you do eat out or take out, it’s worth simply unwrapping food as soon as you can, and don’t store or re-heat in the containers it came in. 

The study also cites one notable exception to the cook-at-home rule:  microwave popcorn. People who reported eating it often had higher levels of certain PFAS chemicals in their blood. 

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