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Wendy's Is Banning These Harmful Chemicals From Its Products

Enjoying those square-shaped burgers just got healthier.
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese

Though eating at Wendy's is about to become even healthier, there won't be any changes to the burger chain's actual food. Instead, the company has vowed to update its packaging, which currently includes a high level of toxins harmful to humans.

Wendy's recently published 2020 Corporate Responsibility Report includes a commitment to rid its food packaging of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a class of man-made substances that have been shown to have a harmful effect on human health. The company says it will "fully eliminate" PFAS in the U.S. and Canada by the end of 2021.

Wendy's was one of six national fast-food chains whose packaging was tested for the toxins in last year's study conducted by environmental advocacy groups Toxic-Free Future and Mind the Store. The chain's food packaging was found to contain high levels of the toxin, along with food wrappers and boxes from several other top brands like McDonald's and Burger King. This prompted a nationwide call for national chains to stop using these harmful chemicals from advocacy groups and citizens alike.

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"Wendy's announcement with its swift timeline is welcome progress as we work to end uses of 'forever' chemicals that contaminate drinking water and threaten the health of communities," Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, said in a statement.

McDonald's made the same commitment last year, albeit on a larger scale. The fast-food chain said it would eliminate PFAS compounds from guest packaging globally by 2025. Burger King is the only of the six chains from the aforementioned study which has yet to announce a similar effort.

PFAS have been linked to certain types of cancers in humans. The National Cancer Institute notes a higher kidney cancer incidence and mortality among individuals with high exposures to PFOA, which is a compound in the PFAS family. It also cites limited evidence for a connection to testicular cancer. For more on the latest fast-food news, check out Subway's "Eat Fresh" Slogan Is Alarmingly Misleading, Operators Say, and don't forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest restaurant news delivered straight to your inbox.

Mura Dominko
Mura is a Deputy Editor leading ETNT's coverage of America's favorite fast foods and restaurant chains. Read more