There Is Probably Plastic In Your Table Salt

Photo: Andrea Bricco/ Getty Images.
Let’s all start crying right now: According to new research from East China Normal University, there's a good chance that there are tiny pieces of plastic lurking in your table salt. That’s right, not only do we have to cut bacon and red meat out of our diets, but we also now have to worry that the sprinkling of pure sodium goodness we consume with practically every meal is contaminated with microscopic pieces of polyethylene terephthalate. This kind of plastic is used to make things like water bottles and cellophane, and it's collecting in the ocean on such a massive scale that there is now a garbage pile the size of Texas in the Pacific (yes, for real). Plastic gets broken down over time, and then gets into everything from fish, to shellfish, to, now, our table salt.

While the study focused on Chinese salts, that doesn’t mean you're safe. As Sherri Mason of SUNY Fredonia told Scientific American, “plastics have become such a ubiquitous contaminant, I doubt it matters whether you look for plastic in sea salt on Chinese or American supermarket shelves." The data suggests that ocean salt is the most contaminated, but lake and rock salts are not exempt either. Grub Street reports that, “an average person who sticks to the recommended intake for salt is probably eating three pieces of plastic per day.”

Okay, I give up. I probably consume my weight in salt every year, so maybe I’ll turn into a piece of plastic soon. If there was any doubt in anyone’s mind why “far away” problems like ocean pollution matter, news like this brings it front and center — right onto all of our breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables.

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