Microplastic pollution has become a global concern, not only due to its detrimental impact on marine ecosystems but also because of the potential risks it poses to human health. As consumers of seafood, we are exposed to these pollutants, which raises concerns about food safety. Recent studies have focused on the presence of microplastics
in mollusks, but what about other seafood, such as fish fillets? In this article, we will explore the scientific evidence surrounding the contamination of fish fillets with microplastics.
Research has found that an average serving of mussels could contain around 90 plastic particles, while oysters may have approximately 50. This means that European shellfish consumers could be exposed to up to 11,000 microplastics per year. The health risks associated with this level of exposure are still unknown, but it is evident that
microplastic abundance in the marine environment will continue to increase.
Seafood such as mussels, oysters, and small fish, which are consumed with the entire soft flesh, are more likely to contain microplastics. But what about fish fillets? A study investigated the contamination of canned sardines and sprats with microplastics and mesoplastics (plastic pieces larger than a millimeter) and found plastic particles
in approximately one in five brands tested. Improper gutting of the fish in the contaminated samples was suggested as a possible reason for the disparity between brands.
The concerning presence of microplastics in fish fillets brings up the question of whether these particles make it into the muscle tissue of the fish. Research has shown that microplastics are indeed detected in fish muscle samples, with a wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes.The average intake of microplastics from consuming fish such as flathead, grouper, shrimp, scad, or barracuda can range from hundreds of plastic particles per 300-gram serving to dozens of plastic particles in a 2-ounce child’s serving.
In addition to physical injuries associated with microplastic ingestion, these particles may release absorbed pollutants and plastic chemical additives. This, in turn, can lead to endocrine disruption, carcinogenesis, and mutagenesis, which can pose health risks to consumers. Vulnerable groups, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children, are particularly at risk. While there is no standard dose for microplastics ingestion or information on the exact
toxicity of different plastic types in the human body, consuming high weekly doses of contaminated fish can threaten consumer health.
Studies have shown that anthropogenic debris, including microplastics, has infiltrated marine food webs and reached humans through seafood consumption. Man-made debris contains a cocktail of priority pollutants, which may transfer to animals upon ingestion. This raises concerns about the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of chemicals and their consequences for human health. Urgent actions are needed to identify and control sources of microplastics before they reach the marine environment.
In conclusion, the presence of microplastics in fish fillets highlights the invisible threats that exist in our plates. Consuming seafood can lead to the ingestion of microplastics, potentially contributing to adverse health effects. While more research is needed to fully understand the risks and impacts, it is crucial to take action to address and minimize the contamination of our oceans with microplastics.