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Ocean Pollution and Fishing Industry: Are seafood lovers really eating 11,000 bits of plastic per year?

Fishing Industry Under Pollution warning
The claim: Seafood lovers could be eating up to 11,000 microscopic pieces of plastic a year.

Reality Check verdict: There is evidence of plastic microparticles being found in the particular mussels and oysters examined, but the research suggests that in order to consume that much plastic you'd have to be eating an average of more than four oysters or between 17 and 18 mussels a day.

The figure of 11,000 bits of plastic a year, which has been reported by the Daily Mail and others recently, comes from a piece of Ghent University research dating back to June 2014.

The researchers were investigating how much plastic is consumed by humans via water molluscs such as mussels and oysters.

The researchers looked at mussels which lived on farms in the North Sea and were bought in Germany, and at oysters from Brittany in France which were farmed in the Atlantic Ocean.

Farming in this context means the mussels and oysters lived on "rope" that hangs in seawater while they were growing.

First they examined the combined tissue of three mussels and two oysters which was about 15-20 grams of meat and found that there was an average of 0.42 plastic particles per gram.

While reports of this figure featured photographs of plastic bottles and other waste washed up on beaches, these particular particles are very small - if you put 11,000 of them in a line it would cover about 4in (11cm).

To get an idea of how many particles people were likely to be eating, the authors accessed data from the European Food Safety Authority's food consumption database.

Read more: Are seafood lovers really eating 11,000 bits of plastic per year? - BBC News

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