Microplastics in food: A review on analytical methods and challenges

Jung Hwan Kwon, Jin Woo Kim, Thanh Dat Pham, Abhrajyoti Tarafdar, Soonki Hong, Sa Ho Chun, Sang Hwa Lee, Da Young Kang, Ju Yang Kim, Su Bin Kim, Jaehak Jung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Human exposure to microplastics contained in food has become a significant concern owing to the increasing accumulation of microplastics in the environment. In this paper, we summarize the presence of microplastics in food and the analytical methods used for isolation and identification of microplastics. Although a large number of studies on seafood such as fish and shellfish exist, estimating the overall human exposure to microplastics via food consumption is difficult owing to the lack of studies on other food items. Analytical methods still need to be optimized for appropriate recovery of microplastics in various food matrices, rendering a quantitative comparison of different studies challenging. In addition, microplastics could be added or removed from ingredients during processing or cooking. Thus, research on processed food is crucial to estimate the contribution of food to overall human microplastic consumption and to mitigate this exposure in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6710
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 2

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant (20162MFDS029) from Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in 2020 and a Korea University grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Density separation
  • Digestion
  • FT-IR
  • Microplastics
  • Sea salt
  • Seafood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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