Class action against McDonald’s claims PFAS chemicals in packaging migrate into food

McDonald’s is facing a multi-state consumer class action lawsuit over its use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances in packaging because of alleged migration of those chemicals into food products.

PFAS are considered “forever chemicals” because their carbon-fluorine bonds are extremely strong and not appreciably degraded under environmental conditions, according to the lawsuit filed March 28 at the Southern District of Illinois.

“Exposure to PFAS can be incredibly devastating to vulnerable populations including young children and pregnant women,” the suit claims. “PFAS are capable of crossing the placenta, meaning pregnant women transfer PFAS to their unborn children. Women exposed to PFAS during pregnancy have higher risks of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, and their babies are more likely to undergo abnormal growth in utero, leading to low birth weight, and later face an increased risk of childhood obesity and infections.”

McDonald’s has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The suit was filed by attorney Steffan T. Keeton of the Keeton Firm in Pittsburgh on behalf of lead plaintiff Larry Clark of Illinois who claims to have made purchases primarily in Effingham, Jackson, Madison and St. Clair counties, as well as across the U.S.

Keeton seeks to include class members from California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Washington.

Compensatory and punitive damages in excess of $5 million are sought, as well as an order requiring McDonald’s to immediately cease and desist from selling their “misbranded products,” among other demands.

According to the lawsuit, the use of PFAS in McDonald’s packaging “stands in stark contrast to McDonald’s brand identity which espouses food safety.”

“Even though McDonald’s Corporation has been using PFAS in its products for decades, it repeatedly denied that PFAS were used in the products,” it claims. “Only recently in 2021, McDonald’s Corporation admitted that PFAS are used in the Products.”

It further claims that McDonald’s uses a “profits over people” approach to “save pennies” per unit sold.

“The Products Plaintiff and Class Members purchased are either worthless or worth less than the purchase price because Defendant failed to disclose that they contain PFAS which are dangerous to the health of the consumer and to the environment.”

The suit claims violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. breach of express warranties, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, violation of Magnusson-Moss Warrant Act and unjust enrichment.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Rosenstengel has been assigned to the case.

This article was first published in Madison Record.

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