Small parts - big impact? Microplastics in food

They are everywhere. In the air, in water, in the soil - they have even been detected in the human intestine: microplastics, small plastic particles ranging from 0.0001 to 5 millimetres in size. “Basically, microplastics can get into food,” says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). “There is currently no scientific evidence that microplastics in food pose a health risk. With our research, we want to close gaps in our knowledge about particle size, concentrations in food and effects on human health.” The latest issue of the BfR science magazine BfR2GO takes a closer look at the small particles. It also explains why it is so difficult to detect microplastics in food. Other topics in the current issue include parasites in game meat, chemicals in textiles and substances emitted from consumer products like carpets, cleaning products and toys.

BfR2GO 2/2019:

Each issue of BfR2GO highlights a different topic from the field of work of the BfR. The latest issue addresses microplastics. Even though research on microplastics is fairly new, the topic is ever-present among consumers and the media. This is also shown by the results of the BfR Consumer Monitor: according to this, a total of 63% of the citizens interviewed were worried about microplastics in August 2019 - 7% more than in the February survey of the same year.

Food additives and sweeteners are also topics in the new BfR2GO. In an interview, Nobel laureate Professor Dr. Dr. Christiane Nüßlein-Volhard comments on new biotechnological methods such as the DNA scissors CRISPR/Cas9. It is also explained how a tiny worm can help reduce animal experiments. In other reports and interviews, BfR2GO provides information from the various fields of BfR activity - risk communication, food safety, product and chemical safety and the protection of laboratory animals.

The official mandate of the BfR includes informing the public about existing and potential health risks. BfR2GO is a publication format of the BfR that addresses important topics in consumer health protection. The scientific magazine is published twice a year in German and English and is published on the BfR website at https://www.bfr.bund.de/en/science_magazine_bfr2go.html. There it can be downloaded free of charge or ordered directly. Those interested can also register for a free subscription to the magazine.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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