Almost 80 percent of the meat and dairy products from farm animals tested by scientists contain microplastics, according to a new study by the Free University of Amsterdam. The possible cause could be the feed of cows and pigs.
All twelve samples of feed pellets and shredded feed examined were found to contain plastic. No contamination was found in the fresh food. The study was commissioned by the Plastic Soup Foundation, a non-profit environmental organisation that aims to reduce plastic pollution.
Furthermore, seven of the eight beef samples tested were found to contain plastic particles, while five of the eight pork samples contained at least one type of plastic. Plastic was also found in 18 of the 25 milk samples tested. ,,This is not only detrimental to animal welfare, but perhaps also to ourselves if almost every steak and burger contains small pieces of plastic," says Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation. "This study raises serious concerns about the contamination of our food chain with microplastics."
The European Pet Food Regulation 767/2009 prohibits the addition of 'packaging and parts of packaging derived from the use of products from the food industry'. According to the Plastic Soup Foundation, this regulation should be enforced. However, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) applies a so-called Reference Point of Action; this means that when the contamination is below 0.15 percent, it is tolerated. The environmental organisation finds this worrying. Westerbos: "We are keen on compliance with the 'zero tolerance policy' at the European level."
Concerns about the proliferation of plastic in farm animal feed have grown in recent years. As recently as 2021, American farm worker Emmanuel Moore was fired after posting a TikTok video revealing how plastic waste contaminates pig feed.
Recently, several studies have appeared on the presence of microplastics in the human body. The particles of plastic enter our bodies when we drink from a plastic cup or bottle, but they are also found in our tap water. We also inhale the particles because they are found in fleece, polyester and nylon clothing. Researchers have even found microplastics in the new snow of Antarctica for the first time.
Plastic Soup Foundation has started a petition in response to the research. In it, they ask Minister Staghouwer of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality to assure consumers that there is no plastic in the Dutch food chain. They also ask the minister to indicate to what extent he gives priority to checks on the presence of plastic in cattle feed.
Food Cabinet investigates price increases in the food sector
Food Cabinet: "A global food crisis is currently looming, driven, among other things, by the war in Ukraine. One of the issues that is very topical at the moment is about price increases. From producers to retailers, raw material and fuel prices are pushing up the production costs of many foodstuffs. This affects the whole chain.
These price increases bring with them many questions and choices, both in production and in communication. As a communication agency in food, we would like to investigate how we can best assist our network in this respect. We hope to use this research to identify the biggest pain points and dilemmas. Therefore, we would like you to ask a number of questionsso that we can identify the major communication challenges in this area. It takes about 3 minutes to complete.
Based on the information from this survey, we will write a concise white paper with industry tips and communication recommendations. If you would like to receive that document, you can leave your e-mail address at the end of the list. We will of course handle all data with care. Completion is completely anonymous."
Food Cabinet is a campaign agency that works with clients on a food system with a future. They want to inspire people to make healthy, sustainable and fair food choices.
Gosschalk slaughterhouse and Farmer Friendly cooperative go wild together
The cooperation agreement between Team Pigs of Farmers Defence Force and slaughterhouse Gosschalk has been signed. This is the start of the process of arriving together at a fair and transparent earnings model for pig farmers via vertical chain integration. Pork products with the Farmer Friendly quality mark are going to conquer a place on shop shelves.
On 16 June, in the presence of some 250 pig farmers who are members of the Farmers Defence Force (FDF), the signing ceremony was held in Wanroij in Brabant. They were given an explanation of the cooperation and the plans to get Farmer Friendly (FF) pork on the market.
Chairman of FDF Team Pigs, Roy Nillesen, stated that meat processors are on the eve of the battle for the pigs. For pig farmers, now is the time to set up a fair and transparent earnings model through chain cooperation with Gosschalk. The profit will be divided 50/50 between Gosschalk and the Farmer Friendly cooperative. We will ensure that the pigs arrive at the slaughterhouse in Epe and will optimise the capacity on the basis of the market demand for pork with the Farmer Friendly quality mark.
A look into the kitchen of the Gosschalk slaughterhouse
Max Gosschalk says that he has traditionally been a fairly closed meat-processing family business in Epe. Every year, we process around 100,000 slaughter cattle and 500,000 fattening pigs with some 500 employees. We cannot do without suppliers of slaughter animals. Livestock farmers are a strategic link and we want to work with them in a future-oriented way,' Gosschalk emphasised. Farmers are respected by the population and society wants its own food supply. In order to support farmers, we think it is important to use vertical integration to market the Farmer Friendly label. Animal welfare and sustainability, however, are also issues that remain important for a sustainable earnings model.
Farmer Friendly PIG listing
It's a historic night for the farmer and we're going to let loose. But we'll start quietly', said FDF leader Mark van den Oever. It is a growth process and we are working towards our own PIG quotation, efficiency and uniformity in the chain. But we start cautiously and will pay our participants 15 to 16 cents above the Van Rooi quotation. Half of the profit comes back to us and half goes back to the farmer in the form of a supplementary payment or a higher PIG quotation.
Slaughter BV in development
Financial and organisational matters still need to be arranged. What is clear is that the Farmer Friendly cooperative will buy the pigs from its members and sell them on to a 'Slaughterhouse'. Gosschalk and the Cooperative FF are both 50 per cent shareholders in this private limited company. This private limited company regulates the slaughtering and sale of the FF pork. Together with Gosschalk, they are working on optimising the square footage of the pig. It is clear that the sales structure for FF pork still has to be built from scratch. According to Van den Oever, the first discussions with supermarkets and butchers about buying FF pork products are ongoing.
One-off payment to slaughterhouse and pig farmers required
Pig fatteners who wanted to join the cooperation could fill in a form on the spot. To get the 'Slaughter BV' up and running, Gosschalk will contribute half of the starting capital. The other half of the risk capital will have to be contributed by the participants. Pig breeders will put down between 0.50 and 1.50 euros once
per pig delivered per year. For sow farmers, the one-off payment is €1.50 to €2 per sow. It's time to show some balls and seize market power. There will be a food shortage and you have to be there now,' Van den Oever concludes.