German Beers Contain Plastic

Scientists also find skin, glass, and other contaminants

Sep 8, 2014
Outside Magazine
insect beer contamination environment food safety alcohol microplastics outside

One of the 24 beers tested contained an almost-complete insect—delicious.    drschnackets/Thinkstock

Researchers who tested 24 popular German bottled beer brands found that every single brew contained microscopic particles of plastic, skin, glass, and other unsavory items. The biggest takeaway of the study, published in the latest issue of Food Additives and Contaminants: Plastics are all over the place, and we can't seem to avoid the stuff getting into our drinks.

None of the beer contained enough plastic or other contaminants to be dangerous, note co-authors Gerd Liebezeit and Elisabeth Liebezeit, of the Varel, Germany-based consulting company MarChemConsult. As reported by Popular Science, the researchers are also unsure sure how the plastics got into the beers, which were purchased at a supermarket. The bottles themselves could have been contaminated prior to filling, or the plastics could have come from the machinery or materials used in the filtration process. It's also possible that the water the brewers used was contaminated. As has been frequently pointed out in the news lately, natural waterways are increasingly home to microplastics that come mainly from cosmetic products.

"The small numbers of microplastic items in beer in themselves may not be alarming," the authors wrote, "but their occurrence in a beverage as common as beer indicates that the human environment is contaminated by [microplastics] to a far-reaching extent."

Under the microscope, some beer samples also revealed various-sized pieces of human skin. ("Workers in breweries lose, as any other people, the outer part of their epidermis," the authors wrote.) Three samples were found to contain tiny glass shards. One beer contained "an almost complete insect."

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