What about the contents?
My local fish and tattie shop around the corner is more than likely older than I am. I think it’s a pillar of the UK’s eateries up and down the country and probably will be still in years to come. Memories flood back, as a child sitting in the car with your parents eating a fish supper. We ate them straight from the greaseproof and newspaper wrappings it came in, that way it tasted the best. Those were the days! There is even a mobile Fish and Chip shop on Gozo.
What’s on the Menu?
On the menu, in fish and tattie shops, you have a big choice, ranging from haddock, cod, mushy peas, chips, pickled eggs and much more. It’s served hot over the counter as a takeaway, even in some places you can sit in and eat.
Do you know that there is a hidden content in your fish supper that is not on the menu? Yes, it is plastic!
Over the past months, countless reports are coming to the attention of the BBC, The Guardian and much more news broadcasting and social media companies. They call your attention to the countless studies on microplastics entering our food chain and landing on our dinner plates. Our waters are becoming increasingly infested with micro-plastic particles due to the pollution of oceans, rivers, lakes and streams. This is a very worrying situation when we are consuming microplastics through our food consumption. This problem is not a faraway thing, it is right on your doorstep, on Gozo, in the UK or any other country for that matter.
What are micro-plastics?
Microplastics are wee pieces of any kind of plastic less than 5mm in diameter – hence the word micro, meaning small. So they are basically the size of a sesame seed that you may find on your bread loaf. Micro-plastics derive from clothing, cosmetics, from the industrial manufacturing processes and most importantly, from the larger pieces of plastics that are discarded into the ocean. The sun dries them out and melts them to a certain degree, the waves and water movement grind them down into smaller particles.
Microbead is another form of micro-plastics that are in our waters and food chain. These minuscule pieces of plastic are found in our personal hygiene and cleaning products. Microbead is in face-scrubs, shower gels, cleaning agents to remove grime and grease and many more. They have been there for over 50 years undetected and no further interest to the public consumer. Back in the 1970s reports emerged that small particles of plastic were found washed up on beaches and afloat in some slow-moving coastal waters. This was the beginning of our massive problem with micro-plastics today. Each year an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped by humans into the ocean. After completing its full circle, it is not a surprise that it has come back to bite us in the bum!
Are micro-plastics present in Fish?
The answer to that question is ‘yes’ it is present. Fish in the ocean or rivers mistake these small particles of plastic for plankton. They ingest them along with other edible food sources, which leaves fish with plastic guts, which they cannot digest.
The university in Plymouth found that one-third of the fish caught in UK waters, including haddock, cod, shellfish and mackerel all contain micro-plastics.
What are the long-term issues?
At this moment in time the implications of humans, consuming plastic is not yet known. One thing though is definite, plastic is not good for us! In 1997 it was estimated that micro-plastics in the ocean outnumber plankton by six-fold. When we read these figures here and now, we must remember that the report is now 22 years old. What has happened in those years to alter the quality of our oceans? The answer is very simple – very little!
When we human, eat micro-plastics we can accumulate up to 1% in our body as nano plastics. People who eat shellfish on a regular basis can eat up to 11,000 pieces of micro-plastic per year. We do know this type of food cannot be good for us, but at this present moment ‘ignorance is bliss’ so they say! The side effects are not known as yet, but the full extent of the damage will be known later after it is too late.
Not on the menu?
As well as your fish supper and mushy peas, you will also receive a free dose of invisible, tasteless micro-plastic. Each and every one of us is responsible for what we throw away, but also what we eat. Hidden contents are not placed on menus for obvious reasons, but we really need to think about what we are doing to ourselves!
A health catastrophe is building on the horizon of this upcoming generation. Plastic fantastic is not fantastic, it is engulfing our planet. Say no to plastic straws, take away plastic cutlery and take away coffee cups with lids. Use sustainable household re-usable material, no plastic bags or single-use throw-away items.
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