New study links Chipotle bowls to cancer-causing chemicals

Posted: Updated:
(CNN) -

Compostable fiber bowls that are used at Chipotle and other restaurants contain cancer-linked "forever chemicals," according to a study conducted by The New Food Economy.

The New Food Economy tested bowls from Chipotle and seven other fast-casual restaurants in New York City. Chipotle was the largest restaurant chain tested.

Bowls from all eight restaurants were believed to contain PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are also referred to as forever chemicals because they do not naturally biodegrade, according to the study.

PFAS can penetrate food that come in contact with the chemicals.

The testing used looked for high levels of fluorine, which shows that products were intentionally manufactured with the class of chemicals, experts told the publication.

The chemicals help the bowls hold hot, wet and greasy food.

PFAS have also been found in other fast-food packaging, nonstick cookware and stain-resistant carpeting.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS compounds do not break down in the human body and can accumulate over a period of time.

The chemicals also seep into soil as the bowls break down, leading to toxic compost.

PFAS can cause kidney and testicular cancer, obesity and hormone disruption, among other possible adverse health effects, according to a 2018 study from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Chipotle officials provided an emailed response to The New Food Economy:

"Chipotle only partners with suppliers who make fluorochemical sciences and food safety a top priority," the statement said, in part. "These suppliers operate under strict guidelines set forth by the FDA, and have provided Chipotle with certification that all raw material and finished pulp products fully meet the FDA regulatory guidelines for the safe use of only approved PFAS."

Chipotle has more than 2,500 locations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.