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High levels of microplastics found in seven different rice samples, new Australian study finds

A study out of the University of Queensland has found that rice, particularly the instant variety, has high levels of microplastics in it.

All samples in the study contained microplastics, however researchers found a 100 gram serve of instant rice, which undergoes more processing, contained up to 13 milligrams of plastic fragments, Nine News reports.

The same quantity of regular uncooked rice contained three to four milligrams of microplastic.

While packaging was partly to blame, other processes involved were also identified.

"In the processing of the rice before it gets put into a bag or while it's being grown - so, agricultural processes," Dr Jake O'Brien from the University of Queensland said.

“Rice is a staple food around the world, so it is important we understand the quantity of microplastics we could be consuming.”

Microplastics are present in a number of consumable foods such as shellfish, beer, and salt.

Another 2019 study estimated humans consume about five grams of plastic every week, the equivalent to the weight of a credit card.

"At this stage we don't know about any health implications from ingesting microplastics via food consumption but we do know that where there is exposure there is some form of risk," O'Brien said. 

“Importantly, we also found washing rice before cooking reduced plastics contamination by 20 to 40 per cent.”

Researchers tested for seven different plastic types ranging from the most common plastic, polyethylene to plastics used in clothing and food production, laminates, technical engineering, polystyrene, acrylics and tube piping.