Sixteen store-bought sea salts from 16 countries were seasoned with microplastics, study finds
Hold the salt – there might be plastic in it.
A new study suggests that tiny plastic pieces are probably in your store-bought sea salt.
Researchers from Malaysia and England analyzed 16 brands of the savory seasoning originating from eight countries, including Australia, France, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Portugal and South Africa. And the sea salt originating from France was the only one that wasn’t polluted with traces of these microplastics.
The plastic particles contaminating the salt were in the form of plastic fragments, filaments and film. They were made up of plastic polymers (41.6%), pigments (23.6%), amorphous carbon (5.5%) – and 29.1% of the contaminants could not be identified.
The researchers assured that the amount of plastics found in the sea salts were still low, and did not pose any health risks to diners – for now. But they warned that could change as more plastics pollute our waters.
“The increasing trend of plastic use and disposal, however, might lead to the gradual accumulation of (microplastics) in the oceans and lakes and, therefore, in products from the aquatic environments,” the study authors wrote, calling for regular analysis into how much plastic is in various seafood products.
The world’s oceans are drowning in an estimated 19 billion pounds of plastic. “It’s about five plastic grocery bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world,” study leader Professor Jenna Jambeck told the journal Science in 2015. Researchers predict the waters could be swimming with more plastic than fish by the year 2050.
And now it’s ending up in our food. In fact, a recent Belgian report estimated Europeans choke down up to 11,000 tiny pieces of plastic in their food each year.
One in four fish bought at California and Indonesia markets had plastic particles in their stomachs, according to a 2015 report. And a 2014 study found oysters and muscles also had microplastics in their guts – the part humans love slurping up with a chilled glass of rose in the summer.
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