Microplastics detected in the meat, milk and blood of farmed animals | Plastics

Microplastic contamination was first reported in beef and pork, as well as in the blood of cows and pigs on farms.

Scientists from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) in the Netherlands found the particles in three quarters of meat and dairy products tested and in every blood sample in their pilot study.

They were also found in every sample of pelleted animal feed tested, indicating a potentially important route of contamination. Food products were wrapped in plastic, which is another possible route.

VUA researchers first reported microplastics in human blood in March, and they used the same methods to test animal products. The discovery of the particles in the blood shows that they can travel through the body and lodge in the organs.

The impact on human or animal health is still unknown, but researchers are concerned because microplastics damage human cells in the laboratory and air pollution particles are already known to enter the body and cause millions of premature deaths per year. Some wildlife species are also known to be damaged by microplastics.

Huge amounts of plastic waste are being dumped into the environment and microplastics have contaminated the entire planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. People were already known to consume the tiny particles via food and water, as well as to breathe them in.

“When you measure blood, you find out the absorbed dose from all the different routes of exposure: air, water, food, etc. said VUA’s Dr. Heather Leslie. “So it’s very interesting because it immediately tells you what’s going into the river of life. »

The pilot study was conducted to assess whether microplastics are present in farm animals, meat and dairy products. “This should provide momentum to further explore the full extent of exposure and any risks that may be associated with it,” Leslie said.

Scientists tested 12 samples of cow’s blood and 12 of pig’s blood and found microplastics in each of them, including polyethylene and polystyrene. The 25 milk samples included milk from supermarket cartons, on-farm milk tanks and hand milking milk. Eighteen of the samples, including at least one of each type, contained microplastics.

Seven of eight beef samples and five of eight pork samples were contaminated. “It remains unclear if there are any potential toxicological risks associated with these findings,” the report said. Farm animals and meat have not yet been tested in other countries, but microplastics have been reported in milk purchased in Switzerland in 2021 and in farm milk in France.

Maria Westerbos of the Plastic Soup Foundation, who commissioned the research, said: “With microplastics present in livestock feed, it’s no surprise that a clear majority of the meat and dairy products tested contain microplastics. . We urgently need to rid the world of plastic in animal feed to protect the health of livestock and humans.

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