Ever since the filming of programs such as the Blue Planet which highlighted to the general public the increasing problem of plastic waste in our marine environment, governments around the world have started to take action to try and compact this major threat to our environment but also to our food supply.
It is estimated that in Europe more than 25 million tonnes of plastic waste is generated of which only 30% is recycled. The UK government in its 25-year plan to improve the environment pledged that the UK will eliminate all avoidable plastic waste by 2042. This year in the UK, there are plans to introduce legislation to ban certain single-use or throw away plastic (SUP) such as straws and cotton buds. The EU is planning to go further with a new directive planned to curb the use of SUP’s entirely.
Research into the growing impact of plastics in our environment and the harm they can do not only to our environment but also to our supply chain is becoming increasingly apparent. This article summaries a recently published study on the impact of plastic on our seafood supplies. A recently published study conducted by the University of Exeter and the University of Queensland had developed a new method for the detection of small particles of plastics in food materials called microplastics. In this study they had found traces of microplastics in every single sample tested. They tested seafood from prawns to sardines purchased from markets in Australia. At present, it is not known what the full effect that these microplastics have on the human body, but research does indicate that microplastic in our diet could have a detrimental effect on our health over time. However, studies like these do highlight further the problem regarding plastic waste.
A study of five different seafoods has found traces of plastic in every sample tested. Researchers purchased oysters, prawns, squid, crabs and sardines from a market in Australia and analysed them using a newly developed method that identifies and measures five different plastic types simultaneously.