Photographed by Alice Gao.
Summer's lease may have too short a date and all that — but at least Oktoberfest is on the horizon, right? Well, this would be exciting were it not for new research published in Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A that suggests there's more swimming around in those tasty beers than you might expect.
In the study, researchers analyzed samples of 24 German beers (including the 10 most popular brands in Germany) by pouring them over a small, gridded, cellulose filter. The five wheat beers they tested clogged the filter after about half a bottle and had to be poured through a stainless-steel sieve instead. The substances clogging the works were pretty gnarly: Three samples contained glass particles, all samples contained microplastics, and one extra-special sample produced the nearly-complete remains of an insect. Yum.
The finding of microplastics was especially interesting because a previous study from the same researchers also found these tiny troublemakers in sugar and honey. Microplastics are synthetic fibers, films, and particles, all under five millimeters in size, that are thought to be the result of the ocean breaking down our plastic waste. Other sources of microplastics include the microbeads in cosmetics and facial scrubs — but thankfully, several companies have begun phasing them out of their products.
While the science is still out on the effects of microplastics on humans, there is some evidence to suggest the stuff isn't great for the marine environment. So, we're not exactly excited about downing microplastics with our würstl. As for the rest of our beverages, this study only looked at German beers — so we still don't know what's lurking in that Corona or Brooklyn Lager. But, no matter what you're imbibing (plastic-spiked or otherwise) we've got your new hangover cure right here.