December 9, 2005
Food Wrapping Under Scrutiny
WASHINGTON (CBS) - It's an old saying: "You
are what you eat."
But whatever you eat, your health may also depend
on the wrapping it comes in. That, at least, is what one critic
says about a specially treated paper used for a variety of popular
snacks and fast foods, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
It's not so much the greasy burgers and buttery
microwave popcorn that worries Glenn Evers, a chemical engineer
who spent most of his career working for DuPont. It's what they
often come wrapped in: paper with a grease-resistant coating made
The coating repels ugly grease. Regular paper just
soaks up a drop of oil but the specially coated paper beads it
up: no messy wrappers.
The problem, Evers says, is
the chemical coating called Zonyl seeps off into the food and
into your body — turning into a possible cancer-causing
substance called PFOA.
As the government debates how dangerous PFOA may
be, Evers has stepped forward to accuse DuPont of concealing how
much of it could make its way into your bloodstream. A top DuPont
scientist for 22 years, he says he was in a position to know.
Evers says back in 1987, DuPont
scientists discovered Zonyl seeped off the paper at triple the
rate advised by FDA, but that was kept a company secret he says.
"When I went to my peers and explained to them
that we were outside of those guidelines, they said, 'We're working
on it, don't worry about it,'" Evers says. "I had full
faith that the DuPont company would do something, and over time
DuPont already faces millions in EPA fines for allegedly
hiding health issues with PFOA for decades. The company is settling
the charges but hasn't released the terms.
DuPont wouldn't agree to an interview, but says
Evers had little direct involvement in the issues at hand. They
also say they've always complied with federal requirements and
so had no obligation to notify the FDA of their tests. DuPont
says its tests show the coating is safe.
The FDA says at this time, it considers Zonyl paper
coating safe when used properly, that Zonyl seeping "should
not be equated to PFOA exposure." But both the EPA and FDA
are investigating PFOA safety.
As for Evers, DuPont fired him in a downsizing in
2002, and he's since been an expert witness in cases against DuPont.
He's suing DuPont himself, saying he was pushed out for raising