PFAS food

Evidence of PFAS in organic pasta sauces

Testing finds fluorine—an indicator of PFAS—in four popular organic sauces. The good news? The other 51 brands tested showed no sign of "forever chemicals."

Four popular organic pasta sauces have detectable levels of fluorine, an indicator of toxic PFAS, according to a new report from Mamavation.


Partnering with EHN.org, the environmental wellness blog and community Mamavation tested 55 sauces and found levels of fluorine ranging from 10 parts per million (ppm) up to 21 ppm in four of the sauces: 365 Whole Foods Organic Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce, Muir Glen Organic Italian Herb Pasta Sauce, Organicville Italian Herb Pasta Sauce, and Trader Joe's Organic Tomato Basil Marinara.

EHN.org partially funded the testing and Pete Myers, chief scientist of Environmental Health Sciences, which publishes Environmental Health News, reviewed the findings.

Related: Investigation: PFAS on our shelves and in our bodies

While the testing doesn’t prove per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are in the sauces, fluorine is a strong indicator of the “forever chemicals”— which have been linked to everything from cancer to birth defects to lower vaccine effectiveness.

PFAS in our food 

The new investigation is the latest from Mamavation, which previously found fluorine in everyday products such as yoga pants and leggings and clean beauty brands' makeup.

PFAS has been found in food before: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019 reported PFAS in several types of food, including meats, seafood, and grocery store chocolate cake.

Related: What are PFAS?

However, Mamavation found evidence of the chemicals in brands that are marketed as organic. It's unclear how PFAS make it into certain foods, but due to widespread use of PFAS across industries, the chemicals can contaminate consumer goods though manufacturing lubricants and coatings, misidentified raw materials, pesticides, personal protective equipment, and plastic packaging.

Ongoing PFAS testing

While the testing is concerning, 92% of sauces tested had no detectable fluorine.

“The good news is that only 8% of the tomato and pasta sauces contained PFAS. But why should there be any in our food?” Linda Birnbaum, who served as the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and National Toxicology Program for more than a decade and who also reviewed the investigation, told Mamavation.

The testing is part of an ongoing effort by Mamavation and EHN.org to identify PFAS in common consumer products. See the full results at Mamavation.

Follow our PFAS testing project with Mamavationat the series landing page.

Want to know more about PFAS? Check out our comprehensive guide.

Have something you want tested for PFAS? Let us know and write us at feedback@ehn.org.

Banner photo credit: Fidel Fernando/Unsplash

Become a donor
Today's top news

Centering biodiversity and social justice in overhauling the global food system

“The food system is the single largest economic sector causing the transgressing of planetary boundaries.”

From our newsroom

LISTEN: Jennifer Roberts on nature as medicine

“I have a deep appreciation for the sounds just being by a creek and hearing the water… it gives me hope and it gives me life when I'm out in nature.”

Peter Dykstra: American Invasive Species Hall of Fame, part 1

Flora and fauna that have left their mark.

IN-DEPTH: What we know about PFAS in our food

Amid inadequate testing and a lack of regulation, we’re all eating “forever chemicals.”

Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Noted ecologist John Harte offers a fresh take on the dire topic of climate change.

Peter Dykstra: Low crimes and misdemeanors

Multiple ethical violations used to mean bipartisan disdain. Now you get sent to Congress.