A review published on November 19, 2018, in the peer-reviewed journal Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, Frank Welle and Roland Franz from the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, Freising, Germany, present “a compilation of the currently available literature data on microplastics in bottled mineral water” (FPF reported).
The authors evaluated the levels reported in the literature under the assumptions of total mass transfer for small molecules as well as “marginal” absorption of ingested particles. Based on these considerations, they concluded that it is “very likely that the reported amounts present in bottled mineral water do not raise a safety concern for the consumer” among “all population ages (infants, toddlers, adults).” This conclusion was reached with regard to both the microplastic particles themselves and the small chemicals contained therein, such as additives or oligomers.
The authors further commented that, “considering the use of plastic materials in our daily life, occurrence of microplastics in beverages is likely a minor exposure pathway for plastic particles.” A “better accommodat[ion] of consumer concerns” would require “a better data basis for exposure estimates and risk assessment.” This is particularly relevant for nanoplastics, since currently it is unclear “whether or not, and if yes, to which exten[t] plastics nanoparticles could be present in the beverages.” Further, “no information on the presence of nanoparticles in foods, beverages and natural mineral water [is] available.”
Nonetheless, it can be assumed that most nanoplastics would be generated due to mechanical forces causing abrasion and disintegration of microplastics during “bottle washing, closing, [or] processing events.” According to the authors, however, “the impact of these forces appears to be insufficiently powerful and intense.” Supported by the evaluation of available literature, this suggests that “smaller particles are not significantly increasing during . . . processing.”
Ramakrishnan Nara (December 2018). “Microplastic contamination of the food supply chain.” Food Safety Magazine
Welle, F., and Franz, R. (2018). “Microplastic in bottled natural mineral water – literature review and considerations on exposure and risk assessment.” Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A (published November 19, 2018).