Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Microplastics on your food plate?


By Kavita Ashok

The foods we are eating are contaminated with various pollutants and chemicals. Microplastics are one of the major reasons behind the contamination.

Have you ever given a thought as to what goes on to your plate and into your stomach? I’m not addressing diets or food fads here. I’m talking of a threat to the human body which industries and advertisers camouflage in the name of stylish high-end food items! You feel you are modern and elite when you pay a heavy price for a simple thing in a fancy package.

What are Microplastics? Plastics lesser than 5 mm in size, according to NOAA, are called microplastics. They are not visible to the naked eye, hence pass off unnoticed.

Microplastics have plasticized our lives. Today they are in our water, air, and food. They are also found in our cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.

Love your fish? Oceans bear the brunt of all things plastic is thrown into them from plastic bottles to industrial waste. These take aeons to degrade and in the meantime are ingested by marine animals. So next time you order your prawns and fancy fish, don’t be too sure of its quality because the seawater is contaminated with loads of microplastics and it is poison for our bodies.

Beware of your Tea -Teabags release microplastics when dipped in hot water. An unaware consumer never gives thought to it as the taste and fancy packaging are all we care for! When the microplastics get slowly accumulated in our blood and stomach, new forms of diseases take birth!


Fruits and Vegetables – Simply put, if the soil itself is contaminated with plastic garbage, slowly the nano plastics seep into the roots of plants. Fruits and vegetables today don’t taste the same because the water and soil are not what they were 50 years ago. This product is again packaged in plastic and sold in supermarkets -making it a double nuisance for all who love organic food. Carrots, lettuce, apples, and pears are shown to be most contaminated by researchers at the  University of Catania, Italy. It breaks my heart to share that broccoli tops the list in vegetables! 

Keep that Apple away – We grew up with an apple-a-day theory but today research shows apples have the highest microplastic counts with an average of 195,500 plastic particles per gram! I’m sure many of us will have to give up this heavenly fruit if this goes on.

Cut that Salt – Per kg of salt tested by Hongkong’s Consumer Council in 2020 found that 20% contained microplastics.

Sandwiches -Even bread packed in single-use plastic is a source of ingesting microplastics into our stomachs.


Health is under threat – Nobody gives a hoot. It suits the food industry not to highlight the hazard of microplastics else it will bear huge losses if the safety of transporting goods and preserving the quality comes under scrutiny! 

Ban Single-Use Plastic – Governments all over the world are slowly banning single-use plastic. My organization Tree For Life has been very vocal in India about banning single-use plastic and we are running a “cloth bag campaign “since 2019. We need to substitute our plastic toothbrushes, plastic straws, and polythene bags, plastic bottles to start with.

Zero plastic shopping and creating refill stations at supermarkets is the new norm. Let this trend pass from a handful of developed countries to every nook and corner of the world.

Consumer awareness will be a change-maker in reducing a microplastic world.

Let us switch from passive consumers to active decision-makers if we want to live long enough to see our grandchildren!

Also Read: How is road safety directly connected to sleep?

(Kavita Ashok is an environmentalist and health activist.)

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.)


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