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Micro-plastics detected in meat, milk and blood of farm animals

Microplastic contamination has been reported for the first time in beef and pork, as well as in the blood of cows and pigs on farms.

Scientists at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam have found particles in three-quarters of meat and milk products tested, as well as every blood sample they took in a pilot study. 

The food products were found in every sample of animal pellet feed tested, indicating a potential contamination route.

Microplastics have been found in human blood for the first time in March, and researchers used the same methods to test animal products. This discovery suggests that microplastics can travel around the body and may lodge in organs.

Researchers are concerned that microplastics could have a negative impact on human or farm animal health. Microplastics can damage human cells in the laboratory, and air pollution particles are already known to enter the body and cause millions of early deaths each year. Some wildlife is also known to be harmed by microplastics.

Microplastics have been found in every corner of the planet, from the summit of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans. These tiny particles are consumed by humans and animals, and can end up in our food and water supply.

“When you’re measuring blood, you’re finding out the absorbed dose from all the different exposure routes: air, water, food, et cetera,” said Dr Heather Leslie at VUA. “So it’s very interesting because it immediately tells you what’s penetrating into the river of life.”

The pilot study was conducted to assess whether microplastics are present in farm animals, meat and dairy products. “It should act as an impetus to further explore the full scope of exposure and any risks that may be associated with it,” said Leslie.

The scientists found microplastics in all 12 samples of cows' and pigs' blood, including polyethylene and polystyrene. Eighteen of the 25 milk samples tested contained microplastics.

Seven of the eight beef samples and five of the eight pork samples were found to be contaminated with microplastics. It is still unknown if there are any potential toxicological risks associated with these findings, according to the report. Farm animals and meat have not yet been tested in other countries, but microplastics were reported in purchased milk in Switzerland in 2021 and farm milk in France last year.

“With microplastics present in livestock feed, it is not surprising that a clear majority of the meat and dairy products tested contained microplastics. We urgently need to rid the world of plastic in animal feed to protect the health of livestock and humans.”

-Maria Westerbos, Plastic Soup Foundation

Source: The Guardian