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Report Release: Why Are PFAS in My Kale?

Report Release: Why Are PFAS in My Kale?

The federal government doesn’t seem to think PFAS contamination of our food supply is a concern, but independent testing from ANH-USA tells a different story. We need to act now to ban PFAS. Action Alert!

Independent testing conducted by ANH-USA has found kale samples purchased at grocery stores across the US to be contaminated with dangerous PFAS chemicals. ANH’s report builds on an increasing body of evidence telling us that the pervasive contamination of our world with PFAS chemicals is producing a public health disaster. The EPA and the FDA have demonstrated that they are not responding with the kind of urgency that is required to deal with this public health nightmare. We must act now to ban these chemicals.

For some time now, we’ve been sounding the alarm about the extensive contamination of the environment with PFAS chemicals and what that means for human health. PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a group of chemicals used in hundreds of consumer products. They are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and accumulate in blood and organs. 

Up until the last few years, we thought PFAS was a contained problem you could protect yourself from by avoiding things like nonstick pans, fast food packaging, and microwaved popcorn. But in 2019, the FDA began very limited testing of PFAS in common U.S. food items and found what we believe are alarming levels of PFAS in certain seafood.

This led our staff at ANH to wonder: Are Americans really being told the truth about our levels of PFAS exposure is food?

We decided to test this question with a pilot study that found shocking results. ANH staff purchased organic and conventional kale from local grocery stores in New York (Stop & Shop), Pennsylvania (Weis), Georgia (Publix), and Arizona (Whole Foods). If PFAS were found in kale, one of the healthiest options available at the store, we would have a clear indication of the extent of PFAS contamination in our food supply.

We sent our local grocery store kale to be tested for PFAS, hoping to confirm what the FDA states on their website as of May 31, 2023, “we have found that most foods not grown or produced in specific geographic areas with known PFAS contamination do not have detectable levels of PFAS.”

Yet when ANH staff received the results of testing for PFAS in our kale, we saw that seven of the eight kale samples were contaminated with PFAS. The FDA’s routine monitoring between 2019 and 2021, which has so far only included analysis of 4 kale samples, has never found PFAS in any vegetable or other plant food. On its webpage, Questions and Answers on PFAS in Food, the FDA states, “To date, we have found that most foods not grown or produced in specific geographic areas with known PFAS contamination do not have detectable levels of PFAS.”

Our testing directly contradicts the FDA’s complacent attitude when it comes to PFAS contamination of our food supply, leaving serious questions about the agency’s assessment of the safety of our food.

The unfortunate truth is that the FDA and EPA – the very agencies that are charged with protecting our health and our environment – have largely turned a blind eye to the chemical companies that have spent decades hiding the horrific truth about the dangers PFAS chemicals as they continued to contaminate our environment, drinking water, soil, and our food.  As a result of this decades-long coverup, we still don’t know the full extent of how bad PFAS are for us, but from the little we do know, it is clear that PFAS are killing Americans. As our report details, studies show that PFAS exposure is linked to an enormous number of frightening health effects, including:

  • Infertility, birth defects, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), low birth weight
  • Developmental delays in children, including accelerated puberty, bone variations, behavioral changes and childhood obesity
  • Cancer (non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, testicular, prostate, liver and kidney cancers)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Decreased immune system response to infections
  • Hormone interference, thyroid disease
  • Obesity, increased cholesterol

So, what does this mean for you? We at ANH believe that, as a result of decades of chemical companies’ careless use of PFAS, it is now pervasive in our food, water, and environment.

U.S. regulatory agencies have proven themselves incapable or unwilling to meaningfully address the extensive PFAS contamination, and the piecemeal approach of individual state policies is positive, but it is not enough. We need to create a groundswell of grassroots support for a ban on PFAS chemicals as soon as possible.

Action Alert! Write to Congress, the EPA, FDA, and state legislators urging immediate action to ban PFAS chemicals. Please send your message immediately.

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10 thoughts on “Report Release: Why Are PFAS in My Kale?

  • John C Lange

    Are you going to be like the FDA and not tell us which store did not have the chemicals. We want to know!

    • Quyana 1

      Hey, John… I’d like to know, too, but I believe in my heart that these helpers do not wish to “be like” the FDA.
      They are simply spreading the word.
      Happy Independence Day!

  • Ken B

    The subject of the above ANH article was a bit misleading. Kale is among the fresh foods containing the highest amount of pesticides, according to a 2023 report by the Environmental Working Group. Therefore, it is not surprising that kale also has high levels of PFAs. The surprising thing is that kale, which is generally considered a health food, is sprayed so heavily with pesticides in the first place. The other surprise is that even organic kale contains PFAs.

    For health reasons, I have switched to an almost vegan diet – no dairy, no meat except for fish. Your report and others I have been reading are making me look more closely at the “healthy” fruits and vegetables I am eating. Now I have to consider the pesticide load of my food and whether they may be GMO. Thanks for elevating my awareness.

  • Darcie

    I am horrified. We pay extra for organic only to find the kale is more contaminated than the conventional. We have Kale smoothies everyday. Can we have our Drs test us for this chemical. Can we sue the companies who sell us poisoned organics?

  • Yes. Why dont you publish the list of 8 Kale products. I only buy organic kale, and it is disturbing that organic has forever
    chemicals. THAT is even worse then pesticides/herbicides. And you article said the organic kale was higher than regular kale. Please forward the list.

  • Karen Fortier

    The people are sick and tired of being sick and tired due to toxins in our food and environment. We need the regulatory agencies created to protect us to start doing their duty. Strict regulations need to be created and enforced to accomplish this.

  • I’m not surprised on reading this article. The emphasis on profits over people’s health is just another scam. It’s all about money and the sleazy executives who control it.

  • Ruby

    It is pretty apparent we cannot trust any of our gov’t agencies. It is wise to do your own research and homework to know what we are eating. Go all organic for sure and buy from your local organic farmer and continue to do your research to know exactly what you are putting into your body…
    Now we have to be cautious of the whole business of “Apeel” where they are trying to get us to eat what THEY want us to in the guise of it being safe and healthy…Just say NO to Apeel!!!

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