Plastic cutting boards release microplastics into food. Here’s what a study found

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Plastic cutting boards have been shown to release microplastics into food.


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Microplastics — pieces of plastic which are generally smaller than 5 mm, or about the length of a pencil eraser, and are barely visible to the naked eye – have discovers in places as different as human heart tissue and the clouds over Mount Fuji. They have also entered food through a number of sources, including, according to some social media users, plastic cutting boards used in many home kitchens.

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The underlying claim that plastic cutting boards have been shown to release microplastics into food is true, based on findings published in a small-scale study in the scientific journal of the American Chemical Society, Environmental sciences and technologyon May 23, 2023.

Cutting boards are usually made of rubber, bamboo, wood or plastic. When food is chopped or sliced ​​on these boards with knives, small pieces of material have been found to come off. Small plastic parts, in particularAre issued in some food products prepared on cutting boards.

The ACS study aimed to determine how the sheet material and chopping styles, both with and without vegetables present, affected the amount of microplastic released. First, five people chopped without vegetables on three different polyethylene cutting boards to measure the amount of microplastics released. Then the same people chopped up polyethylene, polypropylene and wooden planks to compare microplastic emissions in all three cases. Finally, the carrots were chopped on the polyethylene board to see what the release was like when using a vegetable versus when not.

The researchers found that plastic cutting boards were a “substantial source of microplastics in human diets,” influenced by both a person’s cutting style and the material of the cutting board.

Although propylene was shown to shed more than polyethylene, the study authors calculated between 14 million and 17 million polyethylene microplastics and 79 million polypropylene microplastics from their respective sheets annually. However, these numbers can fluctuate based on factors such as the way a person chops, the force required to cut through certain foods and the wear and tear on a particular board.

“Our understanding is that human instincts will drive the force needed based on the hardness of the food being chopped. For example, a restaurant that chops steaks (e.g. chicken and beef) on plastic cutting boards before serving may see varying numbers of microplastics in the kitchen. last steaks,” the study authors wrote.

It adds to a growing body of research aimed at understanding how microplastics enter the food chain. A studyFor example, it turned out that one person consumes between 39,000 and 52,000 microplastics through food every year. Another found it that people consume an estimated 1,530 microplastics through food and another 587 through drinking water.

And it’s not just cutting boards that produce microplastics. In 2021, researchers from Dalian University of Technology in China certain that plastic packaging can contaminate fruit and vegetables. Microwave And heating Plastic products have also been shown to release microplastics into food.

The ACS study found that the discarded plastics were not toxic to mouse cells tested in a laboratory for 72 hours, but the long-term effects of ingesting microplastics are not well documented. A World Health Organization Analysis of research on microplastics available at the time of this publication found that “there is currently limited evidence to suggest that microplastics cause significant adverse health effects.”

“There are major knowledge gaps in the scientific understanding of the impact of microplastics and the weight of current evidence is low to conclude that there are harmful effects. Further and more holistic research is needed to provide a more accurate assessment of exposure to microplastics and their potential impacts on human health,” the WHO wrote in a June 2023 press release.

From a ‘superworm’ that can eat plastic to claims regarding the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’, Snopes has investigated digital rumors about the world’s most widespread pollutant, available in our archive.


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