Sardines Packed with Plastic?

Did you know your smelly-but-delicious serving of sardines might contain actual plastic that worked its way up the food chain? New research found microplastics in several types of seafood, with sardines having the most.

Collected together, the plastic in a serving of sardines weighed the same as a grain of rice. Wild crabs, prawns, oysters and squid were also studied and all contained plastic. The research, led by the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland and published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that the amount of plastic differed among species and among different individuals within a species.

But plastic is plastic, right? Study after study shows it’s in our food – on land and at sea – and in our bodies. Research on whether plastics in our food are bad for our health is in its infancy, but studies in mice have shown that microplastics accumulate in several organs and may also affect the brain.

Sea creatures in the Exeter/Queensland study were analyzed for five kinds of “plastic pollution: polystyrene, polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride, polypropylene and poly(methyl methacrylate). All of these polymers are commonly used in plastic packaging and textiles and previous studies have found they make up a lot of marine litter,” according to an article at summarizing the study.

Other research has found that plastic pollution – macro and microplastics – is found deep in the ocean and current clean-up methods won’t reach it. Last year when a plastic bag was found even in the Marianas Trench, the deepest region in the world’s oceans! Our oceans are teeming with fish, but they’re also teeming with plastics, and now our bodies are too. We need prevention – stopping the use of plastics at their source – and we need remediation to remove as much of the current waste as possible. Eating plastic just can’t be a good idea.