Popular eateries Chipotle and Sweetgreen may serve different food items, but they both use the same supposed compostable and plant-based brown bowls. However, a new report by New Food Economy found that the popular bowls are not only dangerous for the environment but equally dangerous for the people eating out of them too.
According to Newsweek, molded fiber bowls were tested from 14 various locations of eight Chipotle and Sweetgreen restaurants in New York City, and NFE experts found high levels of fluorine within the bowls. Researcher’s claimed the discovery of fluorine indicated the bowls were treated with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances—known as PFAS compounds and often referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their non-biodegradable properties.
The compounds allow the bowls to sustain the heavy, greasy food many people eat from them. However, exposure to those compounds have been linked to kidney and testicular cancers as well as thyroid disorders and colitis.
Scientists are concerned with the potential negative impact the bowls may have on the environment since the man-made PFAS don’t break down naturally in the environment. Furthermore, the dishonest marketing surrounding the bowls have researchers even more worried.
Chipotle first announced their “compostable burrito bowls” would be at every restaurant by 2018, and confirmed “100 percent of our bowls were made from compostable, plant-based fiber” in its 2018 Sustainability Report. Sweetgreen told customers on social media that their “takeout bowls, utensils, straws, and napkins are 100 percent compostable.”
In a statement to Newsweek, Chipotle said they only partner with suppliers with proper FDA certification regarding fluorochemical sciences and food safety. “As evidenced in Chipotle’s Sustainability Report, we are committed to using safe and sustainable food packaging and only partner with suppliers who make fluorochemical sciences and food safety a top priority.”
The statement continued, “These suppliers operate under strict guidelines set forth by the FDA, and have all provided Chipotle with certification that all raw material and finished pulp products fully meet regulatory requirements.”