Microplastic and mesoplastic contamination in canned sardines and sprats

Sci Total Environ. 2018 Jan 15;612:1380-1386. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.09.005. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


No report was found on the occurrence of microplastics in processed seafood products that are manufactured for direct human consumption. This study investigates the potential presence of micro- and mesoplastics in 20 brands of canned sardines and sprats originating from 13 countries over 4 continents followed by their chemical composition determination using micro-Raman spectroscopy. The particles were further inspected for their inorganic composition through energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). Plastic particles were absent in 16 brands while between 1 and 3 plastic particles per brand were found in the other 4 brands. The most abundant plastic polymers were polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The presence of micro- and mesoplastics in the canned sardines and sprats might be due to the translocation of these particles into the edible tissues, improper gutting, or the result of contamination from the canneries. The low prevalence of micro- and mesoplastics sized >149μm, and the absence of potentially hazardous inorganic elements on them, might indicate the limited health risks associated with their presence in canned sardines and sprats. Due to the possible increase in micro- and mesoplastic loads in seafood products over time, the findings of this study suggest their quantification to be included as one of the components of food safety management systems.

Keywords: Additive; Canned sardine; Heavy metals; Mesoplastic; Microplastic.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Fishes
  • Food Contamination*
  • Food Handling
  • Plastics / analysis*
  • Seafood*


  • Plastics