Tiny pieces of plastic and other man-made materials have been discovered in all mussels tested from around the UK coast and in supermarkets, according to researchers.
Scientists from the University of Hull and Brunel University London found traces of microplastics or other debris such as cotton and rayon in a sample of wild mussels from eight coastal locations around the UK, as well as in those purchased from eight unnamed supermarkets.
Seafood lovers regularly consume plastic
The news means that people who eat seafood in the UK are regularly consuming plastic. Researchers estimate that every 100 grams of mussels eaten contains around 70 pieces of debris.
The amount of plastic and other debris dumped in our oceans by humans is to blame for this contamination. It is currently unclear as to what longterm effects consuming small quantities of plastic on a regular basis could have on health, and it is widely acknowledged that more research is needed.
Wild mussels contain more plastic
More contamination was found in the wild mussels tested (sampled from Edinburgh, Filey, two sites in Hastings, Brighton, Plymouth, Cardiff and Wallasey) than in the farmed mussels bought in shops.
However, the shop-bought mussels – which came from various places around the world – had more particles in them if they had been cooked or frozen than if they were freshly caught, the study found.
Other food and drink sources are contaminated
Microplastics have also been found in other food sources and drinking water, and can even be inhaled, so simply cutting out seafood will not eliminate plastic consumption.
Experts said that there may be no risk in ingesting plastic through diet, but that there is currently not enough data to say definitely.