MRO Magazine

New study finds microplastics in several protein foods

February 7, 2024 | By Maryam Farag

Credit: Co-author Madeleine Milne doing research at the University of Toronto.

A new study led by researchers at Ocean Conservancy and the University of Toronto found microplastic particles in 88 per cent of protein food samples tested. The samples were drawn from 16 different protein types destined for U.S. consumers.

Protein types included store-purchased breaded shrimp, minced pollock, fish sticks, white Gulf shrimp (headless/shell-on), Key West pink shrimp (headless/shell-on), Alaska Pollock fillets (skinless), chicken nuggets, top sirloin steaks, pork loin chops, chicken breasts, plant-based nuggets, plant-based fish sticks, plant-based ground beef, and tofu blocks.

While scientists have long documented the presence of microplastics in the digestive tracts of commercial fish and shellfish like salmon, halibut and oysters, there has been little research into whether these microplastics are entering the filets of the fish – the parts that are actually eaten by people; and little research into terrestrial protein sources like beef and chicken that make up a large part of the American diet. In this study, microplastics were found in all 16 protein types tested, suggesting humans are likely eating microplastics no matter the source of protein they choose. Further, there were no statistical differences in microplastic concentrations between land- and ocean-sourced proteins.



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