Consumer Reports finds ‘forever chemicals’ in some store-bought milk

Milk is a staple in many families’ refrigerators. Now, a Consumer Reports investigation found some may contain more than vitamins and minerals. It may also contain PFAS, also known as forever chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently put new limits on PFAS in drinking water. But, there are no federal guidelines for those same chemicals in food, including milk.

“A bunch of dairy farms over the years have reported PFAs contamination in their water or their soil, and then subsequently in their cows, and then the milk that the cows produce,” said Consumer Reports’ Lauren Kirchner.

PFAS are known as forever chemicals because they essentially never break down naturally and have been linked to cancer, immunity and endocrine problems, and infertility.

“PFAS are often added to products to make them waterproof, stain resistant. And once PFAS are out in the world, they end up in our water supply, they end up in the fertilizer farms use, they end up in our food, and they end up in us,” Kirchner said.

To investigate the potential problem, Consumer Reports recently conducted a limited test of 50 samples of whole milk purchased from grocery stores in five states: Texas, California, Michigan, New Jersey, and Virginia.

The good news, Consumer Reports says, is that their scientists found PFOS or PFOA — two PFAS that are most often linked to harmful health effects — in only six of the 50 samples.

Consumer Reports says, “The highest levels of PFAS were 84 parts per trillion PFOA in a sample of Kirkland Signature milk and 60 ppt PFOA in a sample of 365 Whole Foods milk, both bought in California.”

See all of Consumer Reports’ results here

“No one should stop drinking milk based on these findings,” said Consumer Reports Food Safety Scientist James Rogers. “However, it does show how our federal food safety agencies and manufacturers are not monitoring for PFAS in milk and other food and the need for the need health-protective limits on these harmful chemicals.”

In response to questions from Consumer Reports, the International Dairy Foods Association said, “Dairy foods and beverages are highly regulated and rely on a verified system to ensure their safety and integrity.”

If you are concerned about PFAS, you can limit your exposure by avoiding stain- and water-resistant clothing and carpets and using cookware that’s PTFE-free, such as pots and pans with ceramic coatings.

If you are concerned about your drinking water, use a water filter certified to remove PFAS.

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