Which foods have the most plastics? You may be surprised

“How much plastic will you have for dinner, sir? And you, ma’am?” While that may seem like a line from a satirical skit on Saturday Night Live, research is showing it’s much too close to reality.

Ninety percent of animal and vegetable protein samples tested positive for microplastics, teeny polymer fragments that can range from less than 0.2 inch (5 millimeters) down to 1/25,000th of an inch (1 micrometer), according to a February 2024 study. Anything smaller than 1 micrometer is a nanoplastic that must be measured in billionths of a meter.

Even vegetarians can’t escape, according to a 2021 study. If the plastic is small enough, fruits and vegetables can absorb microplastics through their root systems and transfer those chemical bits to the plant’s stems, leaves, seeds and fruit.

Salt can be packed with plastic. A 2023 study found coarse Himalayan pink salt mined from the ground had the most microplastics, followed by black salt and marine salt. Sugar is also “an important route of human exposure to these micropollutants,” according to a 2022 study.

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