Microplastics in your food
This year’s World Health Day focuses upon how our health is interlinked with our planet’s wellbeing. Climate change continues to have an ever-growing presence in our lives as it increasingly disrupts our daily lives. Climate change impacts our health in many ways from rising pollutants in the air damaging our lungs to extreme weather events disrupting whole communities’ livelihoods. This year to raise awareness of World Health Day we are looking at how plastic pollution is damaging our food systems and consequently our health. Mindful eating is at the forefront of consumers thoughts this year and so is ever more important for caterers to consider the quality of the food they serve.
The World Health Organization states that
“Pollution and plastics are found at the bottom of our deepest oceans, the highest mountains, and have made their way into our food chain.”
Our dependency on plastic across the globe has resulted in huge destruction to our planet, which in turn impacts the quality of the food and drink we consume and thus how healthy our bodies are. Recently it was reported that microplastics have been found in humans for the first time, in fact 80% of those tested had plastic particles in their blood. These microplastics can cause damage to human cells and therefore pose a risk to our health. This highlights how neglecting our planet directly impacts our health.
So what are microplastics?
Microplastics occur when the plastic we manufacture for the products we use turn into miniscule pieces over time, entering our water and land systems. Not only do they damage our health, but that of the animals and marine life who ingest these microplastics that occupy their ecosystems. This ultimately causes damage to both the animals and us, as the plastic consumed by these animals is then transferred to our bodies when we eat the animals.
Image Source: EUFIC
Microplastics are found in a variety of foods including; seafood, honey, table salt and beer. It is particularly prevalent in shellfish as these fish cannot be gutted to remove microplastics that predominately build up in the gut of a fish. Microplastics are therefore a key example of how neglecting our planet can damage our health.
What’s the solution?
Reducing our dependency on plastic is the most effective way in which to help minimise this problem. Limiting the amount of plastic we buy and throwaway reduces the levels of plastic entering our oceans and landfill sites. There are several ways in which you can limit your exposure to microplastics, here is what Tapp Water suggest:
- Use a water filter
- Choose environmentally friendly clothes
- Dry your clothes naturally
- Limit meat and fish consumption
- Invest in a laundry ball
- Stop using single-use plastics
- Use public transport
Particularly for those in the food service and catering industry, using water filters, limiting use of fish and meat produce, and reducing single-use plastic wherever possible will be key to boosting the quality of your food service. Water filters such as TAPP 2 are a great way to remove 100% of microplastics from drinking water. Choosing to reduce the amount of meat and fish dishes you provide in favour of more plant-based meals will help limit the microplastics in your dishes. Finally, choosing reusable crockery and avoiding plastic packaged food items where possible can drastically reduce your dependency on plastic.
Why not try some of these swaps this World Health Day and start protecting both your health and the planet! For more plastic related information check out what efforts the Government is making to tackle plastic pollution.