Dog eating pet food from a bowl
Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 12, 2024 ·  4 min read

Test Finds Toxic Forever Chemicals is Most US Pet Food

As pet owners, we do our best to choose the right foods for our furry friends – focusing on a blend of nutritional value and flavor. But have we ever considered these foods as a potential health hazards? Recent findings have revealed that most US pet food packaging contains PFAS, or ‘forever chemicals’, known for their persistence in the environment and health risks. A study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals the alarming presence of PFAS in pet food packaging, its implications for our pets, and the broader environmental impact.

Understanding PFAS: The ‘Forever Chemicals’

Dog laying facing forward
Credit: Pixabay

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals widely used in consumer products for their resistance to heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. This makes them ideal for applications like non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing. However, their indestructible molecular structure means they do not break down naturally, earning them the nickname ‘forever chemicals’. These properties make PFAS a persistent environmental contaminant.

Research has increasingly highlighted the potential health risks associated with PFAS exposure. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, and developmental issues in children. PFAS accumulate in the body over time, leading to higher risks of adverse health effects.

Read More: Is Dawn Dish Soap Toxic? Here’s How To Spot Chemicals In Your Soap

The Study Findings: Alarming Levels of PFAS in Pet Food Packaging

PFAS levels in pet food
Credit: EWG

The EWG’s study tested 11 bags of pet food from seven well-known brands found in major retailers like Walmart. The results were alarming: all tested brands contained PFAS, substances linked to serious health concerns such as cancer, harm to fetal development, and reduced vaccine effectiveness in humans.1

For cats, Meow Mix Tender Centers Salmon & Chicken Flavors Dry Cat Food showed one of the highest concentrations of total fluorine, over 600 parts per million (ppm). Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken followed with just over 310 ppm. Other brands like Blue Buffalo, Iams, and Rachael Ray Nutrish had under 100 ppm.2 For dogs, Kibbles n’ Bits Bacon and Steak flavor registered nearly 600 ppm of total fluorine. Blue Buffalo’s Life Protection Formula Puppy Chicken and Brown Rice Recipe was found to have over 150 ppm.3

Further analysis revealed individual PFAS compounds in some of the pet food bags, including PFBA, PFPeA, PFHxA, PFHpA, x62FTCA, x62diPAP, and PFPrA. The highest concentration of total PFAS was found in Purina Cat Chow Complete Chicken (245 parts per billion, or ppb), with Kibbles n’ Bits following at almost 15 ppb.

Health Implications for Pets

Pet cat
Credit: Pixabay

Similar to humans, pets can accumulate PFAS in their bodies over time, primarily through ingestion. This can occur when PFAS leaches from packaging into the pet food. Once ingested, these chemicals persist and accumulate, potentially leading to various health issues.4

Potential health effects for pets include:

  • Cancer: Increased risk due to certain PFAS compounds.
  • Liver and Kidney Damage: PFAS can accumulate in these organs, leading to damage.
  • Immune System Disruption: Weakening the immune system, making pets more susceptible to infections.
  • Developmental and Reproductive Issues: Particularly vulnerable are younger animals and those in reproductive stages.

PFAS Outside the Bowl

dirty hand
Credit: Pixabay

PFAS can migrate from products like pet food bags into our homes, accumulating in household dust, air, and surfaces. This means potential exposure is not limited to pets; family members, particularly young children, are also at risk.

PFAS are a global environmental issue, persisting in soil and water systems for years. This widespread contamination affects wildlife and disrupts ecosystems. PFAS have been found in water bodies, impacting aquatic life, and even detected in remote areas, indicating their far-reaching impact.

To reduce PFAS exposure, pet owners can:

  • Choose PFAS-free products.
  • Regularly clean to minimize household dust.
  • Stay informed about research and regulations related to PFAS.

Read More: Most mattresses are filled with mold, mites and chemicals – here is how to know

The Need for Regulatory and Industrial Action

House of Congress
Credit: Pixabay

Despite the suggestion of PFAS in pet food bags, direct migration of these chemicals into the pet food itself has not been conclusively determined. However, the potential risk remains significant. The Biden administration has taken steps to address PFAS pollution, but more action is needed, particularly from the FDA, to regulate PFAS in food-related products.

There is an urgent need for strong state and federal actions to eliminate PFAS pollution sources and end unnecessary uses of PFAS in everyday products, including pet food packaging. Pet food manufacturers and regulatory agencies must act decisively to protect both pets and their owners from the dangers of PFAS.


dogs and cats
Credit: Pixabay

The presence of PFAS in pet food packaging is a serious issue that poses health risks to our pets and contributes to broader environmental contamination. As pet owners, it is crucial to stay informed and take steps to reduce exposure to these harmful chemicals. Simultaneously, there is a need for regulatory action to address this problem. By pushing for stricter regulations and choosing PFAS-free products, we can help protect our pets and the environment from the dangers of ‘forever chemicals’.

Read More: Cancer Linked ‘Forever Chemicals’ Found in Popular Band-Aid Brands, Report Claims


  1. IS YOUR PET EATING THIS TOXIC DOG FOOD?Juicing. may 27, 2024.
  2. Most US pet food contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’, study finds.The Guardian. Tom Perkins. November 3, 2022.
  3. New tests find toxic “forever chemicals” in pet food bags and baby textiles.” EWG. Monica Amarelo. November 3, 2022.
  4. New Study Shows Dangerous ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Popular Pet Food Packaging.” Yahoo. Gabrielle LaFrank. March 5, 2023.