With the decision taken by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2018, 7 June was recognized as the “World Food Safety Day” and it was emphasized that people’s access to adequate food is a fundamental right as well as the safety of these foods in terms of health.
While foods that are not produced in healthy conditions can carry disease-causing bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals, with the increasing use of plastic in recent years, microplastics have begun to be encountered in foods.
In a study conducted by academics at Victoria University in the USA, it was determined that the annual consumption of microplastics caused by a person’s eating and drinking activity is between 39 thousand and 52 thousand particles, depending on age and gender. When plastics that are swallowed during inhalation, that is, inhalation, are added to this, it is estimated that the amount reaches 74 thousand to 121 thousand particles.
While packaged foods are exposed to microplastic during the preparation and packaging process, even if they are not packaged, cutting on plastic surfaces during preparation for service can increase the plastic load of some foods.
Özuluğ, who investigated the effect of cutting foods such as kokorec, kebab and pastry on plastic surfaces on the microplastic load, stated that within the scope of the study, he examined the products that he was sure were cut on the plastic counter by obtaining them from different operators.
Sharing the details and results of his study, Özuluğ explained that they use special filters and devices to detect microplastics in foods.
Özuluğ said that they bought and examined the Urfa kebab both raw and cooked, and the kokoreç and pastry as cooked.
When the dimensions of the pieces are calculated, kokoreç comes first.
Özuluğ said, “The number of pieces of the pastry is very high, but if we look at the size of the pieces in millimeters, we can say that it is less than kokorec. Therefore, I would like to say that the size of the pastry gains importance along with the number of pieces.” said.
Özuluğ also gave information about the dimensions of the microplastics they detected and said:
“In 100 grams of Urfa kebab, we consume 0.087 millimeters of plastic, that is, a hair diameter and 8.47 millimeters in length. 8 millimeters is close to one centimeter. This is the smallest amount in 100 grams of Urfa kebab, when you eat it once. It is 0.1 millimeters wide and 110 millimeters in size. That means there is plastic we eat in kokoreç, which is close to 10 centimeters long. Pastry has a length of close to 6 centimeters. Again, it is as thin as a hair and 6 centimeters, but as I said, this is 100 grams and the amount of plastic that can enter your body once you eat it.”
Özuluğ stated that when they examined Urfa kebab both raw and cooked, they detected approximately the same amount of plastic in both ways.
Pointing out that when they rank according to the size of the detected microplastics, kokoreç comes first, borek comes in second, and Urfa kebab comes in third, Özuluğ said, “When only one of the pastry, kokoreç or Urfa kebab processed on plastic counters is consumed every week, it reaches two hair widths in a year. A little over 5 meters long plastic load is taken into the body.” he said.
“Wood, bamboo or glass can be alternatives”
Pointing out that plastic benches are preferred by tradesmen because they comply with the legislation and are easy to clean, Özuluğ noted that there are products that businesses can use as an alternative to plastic.
Özuluğ continued as follows:
“If businesses want to offer a healthier product to the public, they can turn to healthier and more natural materials. It can be wood, bamboo or glass. Now there are new, new, I think porcelain products on the market. If cutting operations are done in the house, plastic should be avoided. We all use plastic. We all use plastic. There are plastics at home, but plastic should not be used in cutting operations after or before cooking.”
Emphasizing the importance of continuing research in terms of raising awareness about food safety, Özuluğ evaluated the need to regulate the use of plastic products in contact with food on the basis of laws and make it an appropriate procedure.