Microplastics in milk and meat from Dutch cows, pigs: Amsterdam researchers
Meat and milk from Dutch cows and pigs contain microplastics, researchers from the VU University Amsterdam have discovered. They also found tiny amounts of at least three types of plastic in the blood of all the animals they studied: 12 cows and 12 pigs. The study was modest in size, but the Plastic Soup Foundation that commissioned it called the results “shocking.”
The researchers also found at least one type of plastic in seven of the eight beef samples tested, as well as five of the eight pieces of pork. Eighteen of the 25 milk samples contained microplastics.
The researchers think contaminated feed may be how the microplastics ended up in the pigs and cows. Fresh food that they tested contained no measurable plastic particles. But they did find microplastics in all twelve samples of feed pellets and shredded animal feed they examined.
“This study raises serious concerns about the contamination of our food chain with microplastics,” said Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation. She added that “farmers are not responsible for this.” According to Westerbos, it appears that some of the leftover batches from the food industry are “processed into animal feed, packaging and all.” The foundation suspects that “virtually every steak and hamburger” contains small pieces of plastic.
The VU researchers did not confirm those assumptions. Due to the modest size of their study, the Amsterdam researchers warned against drawing too large conclusions. They called their results “a first indication that plastic particles are present in detectable concentrations in modern animal feed, the animals that eat it, and in farm products.” The study is also inconclusive on how harmful the microplastics in food are. According to the VU researchers, further study into the extent of the exposure and possible risks is desirable.
According to the Plastic Soup Foundation, the government should guarantee that the food chain is entirely plastic-free as a precaution. Minister of Agriculture Henk Staghouwer must work on this, the organization said, also starting a petition on the topic. The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) should also enforce it more strictly, according to the Plastic Soup Foundation.
Reporting by ANP