Millions of people will be cooking Christmas dinner this weekend, but you might not be expecting a side of microplastics with your turkey.
Researchers in England looked into how microplastics might be creeping into your holiday meals and say choosing the right ingredients could make a big difference.
“Microplastics are everywhere,” says Dr. Fay Couceiro from the University of Portsmouth. “If you’re eating anything and drinking anything, you will be ingesting a certain number of microplastics.”
As part of the study they cooked two roast chicken dinners. One was made with plastic-packaged ingredients and one was made using ingredients without packaging.
“We found seven times more microplastics in the wrapped dinner than the non-wrapped dinner,” said Dr. Couceiro. “If you were eating an equivalent wrapped dinner every day for a year, you’d be eating about 10 grams of plastic.”
That’s about the equivalent of two plastic bags a year, she explained.
Cooking food in the packaging is thought to increase the amount of microplastics you consume, but food that has been wrapped in plastic and is not cooked in the packaging also contains substantially more.
Researchers say they don’t know yet how ingesting microplastic is affecting the human body.
“All we have established now is that it is there in the body, staying in the body in significant quantities. What we don’t know is, what is it doing there?” said Prof. Shaji Sebastian, a consultant gastroenterologist.
Plastic production around the world is set to double in the next 20 years. Plastic waste flowing into the oceans is forecast to triple in that same time period.