Consumer Watch: Eating out could expose you to group of toxic chemicals

FRESNO, Calif. -- Like many moms, Janna Wohl sees a home-cooked dinner as a chance to know exactly what her kids are eating.

And now, Janna has one more reason to cook at home.

A new study finds eating out and getting takeout may expose you to more of a group of toxic chemicals called per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

"PFAS are what's known as forever chemicals," says Keven Loria, a Consumer Reports Health Editor. "And that's because they essentially never break down naturally. So, once they're made, they just accumulate in the environment, they end up in our water supply, they end up in our food and they end up in us."

At high levels of exposure, some PFAS chemicals have been linked to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cancer, obesity, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and growth and learning delays in babies and children.

PFAS chemicals are everywhere, including the surface of some non-stick pans, the lining of some takeout containers and pizza boxes to keep grease from seeping through.

"So, we don't know how much of our individual exposure comes from food packaging exactly," Loria said. "But what this study did show is that people who cooked at home more had lower levels of PFAS in their blood than people that ate out more frequently."

When you do eat out or take out, it's worth simply unwrapping food as soon as you can, and don't store or re-heat in the containers it came in.