Whole Foods removes packaging with a cancer-linked chemical from its stores

  • Whole Foods Market has eliminated a cancer-linked chemical from the packaging it uses in its stores, the company said.
  • The Amazon.com-owned grocery store chain declined to comment to CNBC about the cost of this effort, which was first reported by Bloomberg.
  • The announcement came after advocacy groups Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future released a study that named Whole Foods as the worst of five grocery chains for packaging takeout food and bakery items in containers with PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances.
A Whole Foods locaton in downtown Denver. 
John Leyba | Denver Post | Getty Images
A Whole Foods locaton in downtown Denver. 

Whole Foods Market said Tuesday it has eliminated packaging with a cancer-linked chemical from its stores.

The Amazon.com-owned grocery store chain declined to comment to CNBC about the cost of this effort, which was first reported by Bloomberg.

The announcement came after advocacy groups Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future released a study that named Whole Foods as the worst of five grocery chains for packaging takeout food and bakery items in containers with PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances. The groups found high levels of fluorine in five of 17 items tested at Whole Foods, and the presence of this chemical is a sign that they were likely treated with some type of PFAS. The chemical can be used to treat packaging so it doesn't leak.

"Whole Foods Market introduced compostable containers to reduce our environmental footprint, but given new concerns about the possible presence of PFAS, we have removed all prepared foods and bakery packaging highlighted in the report. We're actively working with our suppliers to find and scale new compostable packaging options," Whole Foods spokeswoman Rachel Alkon told CNBC in an emailed statement.

To read the full Bloomberg report, click here.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, CNBC reported that 3M is a manufacturer of the chemicals. A spokesperson for 3M said 3M does not supply any fluorine materials for any of the product applications identified in the report. An earlier correction misstated 3M's statement about fluorine.