• Gross Ingredients: Microplastics In Beer?

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    If you're going to Oktoberfest next month to enjoy the delights of German beer, you might get more than you bargained for. New research has revealed the extent to which German beers may be contaminated by foreign substances, most notably, microplastics. The research, published this month in Food Additives and Contaminants: Part A, analysed 24 beer samples from local supermarkets and included both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer. Contamination was found in all cases. Defining microplastics as ‘fibres, films, fragments or granular particles smaller than 5 mm in size and made of synthetic polymers', the authors found that regular tap water may also be subject to this contamination.

    The researchers tested 24 brands of German beer for microplastics, and found that every last bottle was contaminated with the stuff. (Another gross-out factor: One brand even contained a nearly whole insect, and three had glass shards floating around.)

    So how does plastic make its way into so many brews? The contamination most likely happens during the filtration and bottling processes, study author Gerd Liebezeit, Ph.D., told Yahoo Health. “There is evidence from the literature that filter material can be found in beer,” he said. “And tap water used for washing beer bottles before filling may also contain small amounts of particles.” Although his study was conducted in Germany, the beer production process is fairly universal across the globe — at least among large producers — said Liebezeit, who noted, “This problem probably occurs everywhere.”

    And it’s not just beer you have to worry about. “Microplastic contamination is everywhere — in the …

    The study also indicated that the contamination wasn't just caused by microplastics, indeed one beer sample even contained an almost complete insect belonging to the Order Thysanoptera. Moreover, three samples revealed glass shards of up to about 600 ?m size.

    The authors of the article, Gerd Liebezeit & Elisabeth Liebezeit, conclude their research by suggesting possible causes for the contamination, citing the materials used in the production process and the clothes and skin of brewery workers as likely sources.

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