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posted by hubie on Tuesday May 23, @01:43AM   Printer-friendly

Plastic pervasive in food supply, says new study:

Micro and nanoplastics are pervasive in our food supply and may be affecting food safety and security on a global scale, a new study led by CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, has found.

The study is one of the first to analyze the academic literature on microplastics from a food safety and food security risk viewpoint, building on past studies which primarily tracked plastics in fish.

It shows that plastics and their additives are present at a range of concentrations not only in fish but in many products including meat, chicken, rice, water, take-away food and drink, and even fresh produce.

CSIRO analytical chemist, food safety specialist and lead author of the paper, Dr. Jordi Nelis, said these plastics enter the human food chain through numerous pathways, such as ingestion as shown in the fish studies, but one of the main ways is through food processing and packaging. The research is published in the journal TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry.

[...] There are currently no definitive studies that demonstrate micro and nanoplastics in the environment cause harm to humans, however more research is needed to fully understand health effects.

[...] "The key missing information is determining safe levels of microplastics. We currently don't know exactly what the microplastic flux through the food system is or which levels can be considered safe," Dr. Nelis said.

Journal Reference:
Joost L.D. Nelis et al, The measurement of food safety and security risks associated with micro- and nanoplastic pollution, TrAC Trends in Analytical Chemistry (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.trac.2023.116993

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday May 23, @02:02AM (2 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday May 23, @02:02AM (#1307524) Homepage Journal

    I grew up in a world with few plastics. Plastics were cheap versions of stuff, that poor people could buy if they couldn't afford the real thing. Like Tupperware. Tupperware sucked, way back then.

    Mom fixes a pot of spaghetti or something. Tomato sauce, some beef, with the requisite grease in the sauce. You can wash a wooden plate, and it would come clean. Wash a china or bone china plate, and it comes clean. Wash a cheap fired clay plate, and it comes clean. Wash an even cheaper melnac plate, and it came clean. Tupperware? The damned thing was permanently stained red, and it felt greasy forever after.

    I didn't like plastic tableware when I was a mouthy six year old, and I don't like plastic today.

    And, how 'bout all those non-stick pots and pans? After a couple years, the non-stick stuff is gone. Where'd it go? YOU ATE IT DUMMY!! Where else did you think it went? It slowly got mixed into your food, and down your gullet!

    Give me a plain old copper kettle to cook in, and the cheapest, most shoddily made earthenware to eat off of, and I'll be quite happy, thank you. I prefer my cutlery and utensils to be steel, thank you. Look at those cutesy spatulas and things, safe for non-stick pots and pans. After a couple years, they also get worn around the edges. Where'd all THAT plastic go? Again, YOU ATE IT DUMMY!!

    And, here we are today, asking what safe levels of plastic are. I'd prefer washing the DDT off of my vegetables, to being unable to remove the plastics from my food.

    Abortion is the number one killed of children in the United States.
    • (Score: 1) by shrewdsheep on Tuesday May 23, @08:24AM

      by shrewdsheep (5215) on Tuesday May 23, @08:24AM (#1307618)


      I believe the smaller part of the wear debris is being eaten, while the majority of stuff is ground away in the dishwasher or by aggressive treatment of non-adhesive surfaces. I do agree with your general sentiment, though. I do use plastic for storing left-overs and I do not have a reasonable replacement for that. You are absolutely right about the grease, though I do not see this as a problem. The grease being fatty dissolves in the plastic which is not nice but also not problematic as long as the plastic is cleaned to not leave grease on a paper towel.

    • (Score: 2) by istartedi on Tuesday May 23, @08:36AM

      by istartedi (123) on Tuesday May 23, @08:36AM (#1307619) Journal

      I have a cast iron skillet I inherited from my parents. The "YOU ATE IT DUMMY" thing actually works in your favor with cast iron. You eat iron. Your body needs iron. There are some rare conditions where you can get too much iron, and shouldn't use one; but if you're one of those people I think you bioaccumulate iron no matter what.

      Yes, it's harder to avoid some sticky things. So what? It's part of the seasoning process, and if you get junk that's not part of the seasoning you scour it a bit (but not too much) or scrape it off with a spoon.

      Oh, but that's work. There's a reason sloth is one of the deadly sins. Enjoy whatever the PFOAs do to you because you're too lazy to scrape a pan.

      Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, @02:20AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, @02:20AM (#1307528)

    I print plastic. I eat plastic. There is plastic in my red blood cells.

    I AM plastic.

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, @03:22AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, @03:22AM (#1307555)
      I'm a plastic girl, in the plastic world
      Life in plastic, it's fantastic
      Plastic in your hair, plastic is everywhere
      Contamination, life with your creation
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, @11:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 23, @11:28AM (#1307628)
  • (Score: 2) by Barenflimski on Tuesday May 23, @04:23AM (2 children)

    by Barenflimski (6836) on Tuesday May 23, @04:23AM (#1307572)

    I just finished with the Spring garden stuff. There is so much plastic, it blew my mind. i don't use plastic in the garden. I use leaves, seeds and dirt.

    It's all little pieces.

    All I can figure is that it blows in over the year as its an assortment of crap from pieces of trashbags, plastic singe use bags, green bits, red bits, black bits, blue bits.

    I spent 10 minutes picking it all up, and I had two full handful's of various crap. I don't live in a super populated area. We're talking 1000 square feet here.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by istartedi on Tuesday May 23, @08:42AM

      by istartedi (123) on Tuesday May 23, @08:42AM (#1307620) Journal

      This happens here too. I always find shreds of plastic tarp. I thought the last occupant had buried one here, and I'd eventually get rid of it all. Then this January we had a huge wind and rain storm, and I actually witnessed tarp shreds raining down on to my property.

      Yep, trash pickup too--it's not perfect. The trucks lose a little all the time, but mostly plastic blows in from littering, illegal dumping, and people allowing worn-out stuff like tarps to just sit there.

      Then you've got the animals. Some of them choke on plastic, but others use it as nesting material. What bird or gopher wouldn't want a nest lined with the latest in modern materials? Oh, I don't like that color though. It's the wrong shape for my nest. I shredded too much. I'll just leave it wherever.

      A few weeks ago, I found an isolated Lego in the driveway. Some crow needs that to complete their set.

      Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24, @01:08AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 24, @01:08AM (#1307802)

      Another source of micro plastic is car & truck rubber tires. Tire rubber is a polymer too--very long chain molecules suitably cross linked to give the appropriate amount of flexibility, wear resistance and many other properties.

      The Euros have been looking into where the wear particles go for some years now and other countries are starting to catch on. The smallest particles float away from roads and they are in all our lungs. Best to not live downwind of any big highway intersection where there is a lot of braking for a stop sign or stop light--it's the slip induced by braking, cornering and accelerating that causes most of the tire wear.

  • (Score: 2) by MIRV888 on Tuesday May 23, @01:24PM

    by MIRV888 (11376) on Tuesday May 23, @01:24PM (#1307645)

    Plastic isn't going anywhere. It's inexpensive. It works. It lasts forever.
    Once your soil is contaminated with micro plastics (It already is) you are eating plastic just like we are.