Holiday dinners may contain 230,000 microplastics: study

The holiday dinner many are looking forward to this season may arrive with an unexpected ingredient—plastic.

That’s because a new study published in November by researchers at the University of Portsmouth in the UK has found that a roast dinner can contain “astonishing” amounts of microplastics.

According to the school’s press release, microplastics are plastics that are less than five millimeters in size.

University study explores whether plastic-packed meal ingredients lead to more microplastics found in food items

Fay Couceiro, a reader in biochemistry and environmental pollution at the university, did a small study by examining two separate roast dinners. Both dinners featured chicken, potatoes, carrots, broccoli and yorkshire pudding, but one made with purchased ingredients wrapped in a plastic bag, and the other didn’t.

According to the university’s press release on the study’s findings, food made from plastic-wrapped items contains “seven times more microplastics than non-plastic-wrapped foods.” In total, about 230,000 microplastic particles were found.

This indicates that “plastic packaging is the main way for plastic to enter our bodies,” the statement said. According to research, eating one plastic-wrapped dinner a day will consume about two plastic bags per year.

“From the results, it seems that the majority of the microplastics in our food come from the plastic packaging that is wrapped inside. However, there are other ways that plastic can enter the food chain. Couceiro said in the press release that it can get into vegetables through our soil or into our meat through grazing livestock.

She also says that the air also contains microplastics, so “they can fall on top of the food.” Additionally, plastic can come from cooking utensils that are also used when preparing meals, she explains.

She said: “This study differs from the findings of others, as the researchers examined what was on the plate after the food was cooked, as opposed to analyzing the raw ingredients in the room. experiment.

“It is likely that microplastics will come from a combination of food interior, packaging, cookware and air,” she said.

Professor Shaji Sebastian, a consultant in gastroenterology at Hull University Teaching Hospital in the UK said in a press release that the results of the study were surprising and suggest that research on microplastics should be “emergency”.

“It is important to understand, what are microplastics doing to the body? Do they go for organs?” he said. “Those are important questions to be considered,” he said.

A review study published in 2020 from academics in Italy explains that the impact of microplastics on the human body is still not fully understood.

The researchers found that human absorption of microplastics is well established. However, only plastics smaller than 20 micrometers can penetrate organs, and particles 10 micrometers or less can penetrate all organs and the brain. Ten micrometers is about the diameter of a human blood cell.

However, research published in 2021 by UK researchers has found that microplastics can damage human cells in the laboratory at levels considered normal for humans. humans when absorbed through food. But the health effects are still unclear, as researchers aren’t sure how long plastics stay in the body before they escape through waste.


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