An Illinois resident filed a proposed class action against McDonald’s Corp. for the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—PFAS—in the company’s food packaging, alleging the chemicals may increase the risk of cancer and other illnesses in humans.
On behalf of lead plaintiff Larry Clark, the complaint alleges that PFAS can migrate from packaging into food. The complaints states that this may be especially likely in foods with high fat and sodium content such as the food McDonald’s serves.
According to the complaint, there is a reasonable expectation that McDonald’s food be “safe and effective for their intended use.” Consumers expect their food to “not contain dangerous and synthetic chemicals like PFAS.” If the plaintiff and others had known that PFAS were present in the packaging and possibly the food, they would have forgone McDonald’s food for a different option.
The class action complaint points to McDonald’s emphasis on food safety, calling it one of the company’s “core themes” in its marketing and consumer-facing communications. “In almost every medium,” the complaint reads, “McDonald’s Corporation tells consumers, investors, and the general public that the products are safe.”
The complaint argues that McDonald’s safety-focused messaging is counter to their inclusion of PFAS in packaging. Additionally, McDonald’s denied the use of PFAS in their packaging, and didn’t admit to its inclusion until 2021, the complaint alleges. The failure to warn or admit to the inclusion of toxic chemicals indicates McDonald’s “products have been misleadingly represented, marketed, and advertised.”
In 2021, McDonald’s released a statement indicating the company’s commitment to phasing out all PFAS from its products by 2025.
The case is Larry Clark v. McDonald’s Corp., case number 3:22-cv-00628, in the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
Please click here to view the complaint.