Avoid Microplastics in Your Meals: Tips for Safe Eating

By Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

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Time to Read: 9 min

Microplastics are everywhere—from the deepest oceans to the highest mountains, and alarmingly, in the food we eat. These tiny particles, smaller than five millimeters in size, originate from larger plastic debris that degrades over time due to environmental exposure. 


When it comes to food, the journey of microplastics is a winding one. They often start from packaging materials, agricultural practices, or aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. As these plastics break down into smaller and smaller pieces, they find their way into our meals, hidden but potentially harmful. 


Whether it's seafood caught from a plastic-polluted ocean or vegetables grown in soil with plastic mulch, microplastic in food is a growing concern that sneaks into our diets unnoticed.


This tiny invader is more than just a nuisance; its presence in our food chain raises questions about the safety of our meals and the long-term effects on our health. As we explore the world of microplastics, it's important to understand not just their origins but also how pervasive they have become, influencing not just environmental health but human health as well.

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

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Tracing Microplastics in Our Meals

When it comes to the food that we eat and feed our families, the presence of microplastics is not limited to the obvious suspects like seafood. Recent studies have revealed a startling truth: nearly every type of protein we consume, from fish to chicken to plant-based alternatives, carries these tiny plastic particles. 


Research shows that a staggering 88% of protein sources sampled contained microplastics. This widespread contamination means that regardless of dietary preferences or choices, most of us are consuming these particles with our meals.


Where these microplastics come from is as wide-ranging as the foods they contaminate. In seafood, they enter through polluted waters where the fish live and feed. For land animals, microplastics can be found in the animal feeds or in the environments where they are raised. Even plant-based foods are not totally safe, with microplastics infiltrating crops through contaminated soils or water used for irrigation.


The issue is more than just an environmental problem—it’s a direct line to our dinner plates. It’s important that, as consumers, we understand the broader scope of microplastic contamination across various food sources. We should consider not just what we are eating, but how the choices we make impact our health and the environment in unseen ways. 


With microplastic in food becoming nearly unavoidable, it's important to more deeply understand how these particles reach our plates and what this means for our health.

Microplastics in Food | Sushi Served on Stainless Plate

The Health Risks of Microplastics: A Growing Concern

Just because microplastics are tiny doesn’t mean they can’t do harm. Research increasingly highlights the risks these particles pose to human health, primarily through their ability to disrupt our bodily systems.


One of the most concerning effects of microplastics is their potential to act as endocrine disruptors. These chemicals can mimic, block, or interfere with our body's natural hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, leading to health issues ranging from infertility to increased cancer risk. 


The very chemicals that make plastics flexible and durable can interfere with our body's natural hormonal functions, mimicking or blocking the hormones that guide our body's growth, development, and general functioning.


The presence of microplastics in food could increase our risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The inflammation triggered by chronic exposure to these plastics could compromise gut health, a critical component of our overall immune system.


The gut is not just about digestion. It also plays an important role in protecting us against pathogens and managing our immune response. When microplastics disturb this delicate balance, they weaken our body’s ability to fight infections and maintain healthy bodily functions.


It’s increasingly important for us to understand not just the presence of microplastics in our meals but also their potential to impact our health over the long term. The issue of microplastics is not just environmental—it's intimately connected to our well-being.

Mealtime Essentials

Simple Steps to Minimize Microplastic Exposure in Your Diet


Now that you know about how prevalent microplastics are in food, you might be feeling a bit powerless. But don’t be! There are practical steps to take to reduce your exposure. Making mindful choices about how you shop, cook, and store food can significantly impact the amount of microplastics you and your family consume. Here are some actionable tips to help you safeguard your meals from these unwanted additives:

Choose Fresh and Organic When Possible

Organic produce is less likely to be exposed to plastic mulches and synthetic chemicals, reducing the potential for microplastic contamination. Opting for fresh foods over processed ones also minimizes exposure to plastics used in packaging and processing.

Avoid Heating Food in Plastic Containers

Heat can cause plastics to break down and leach chemicals into food. Use glass or ceramic containers when heating meals in the microwave or storing hot foods.

Be Cautious with Seafood

Given that seafood is a major source of microplastics, consider reducing your consumption or choosing species known to have lower contamination levels. Shellfish and smaller fish tend to accumulate more microplastics.

Get a Filter and Ditch the Bottled Water 

Using a high-quality water filter can reduce the amount of microplastics in your drinking water, a significant source of exposure.

Prefer Glass and Stainless Steel

When it comes to storage and cooking, choose materials like glass or stainless steel over plastic. These materials are less likely to shed microplastics and don't contain harmful chemicals that can leach into your food.

Support and Advocate for Environmental Policies

Push for policies that reduce plastic waste and improve food safety standards. Supporting initiatives and organizations that fight against plastic pollution contributes to long-term solutions.

Embracing Our Role in a Plastic-Free Future

The journey to reduce the impact of microplastics begins with individual actions that inspire broader changes. By understanding how these particles enter our diet and their potential dangers, you can make protective choices for your health and the planet.


Each decision—choosing unpackaged produce or participating in community workshops on plastic pollution—can have significant effects. These actions, while small, contribute to a larger movement towards sustainability that transcends our local environments and impacts global ecosystems.


The issue of microplastics in food is complex but not insurmountable. Through informed choices, proactive behavior, and supportive legislation, all of us can significantly reduce our microplastic footprint. It’s about taking daily steps to cherish and safeguard our health and the Earth—a commitment that each of us can make for a cleaner, safer future.


Shop Ahimsa today for plates and more.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

More Mealtime Essentials

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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