Food packaging leachates impact gut microbiome and metabolites


In an article published on July 16, 2022, in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, Naifan Hu and co-authors from Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, China, investigated the effects of food contact material (FCM) leachates on the mice gut microbiome and metabolome.

The scientists purchased three types of commonly used food packaging, non-woven tea bags, food-grade plastic bags, and disposable paper cups, in supermarkets in Yinchuan and put them in boiling tap water for 10 minutes to leach the chemicals contained in them. The cooled-off leachates were given to mice as drinking water for six months. Ten mice each were exposed to samples of the three packaging types and another ten to untreated drinking water as control. Subsequently, the feces and urine of the mice were used for the analysis of the gut microbiome and metabolomics. Besides, liver and renal tissues were investigated for histological changes, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

Hu and co-authors reported inflammation in both tissue types as well as an altered cell morphology compared to the control mice. Furthermore, plastic leachates were found to change the diversity and composition of the gut microbiota at the genus level. For instance, the dominant microbiota in each exposure group changed compared to the control group but for each of the exposure groups in a different manner. Differences were also observed between male and female mice. Metabolomics showed an enrichment of pathways related to immune function and inflammatory responses with glycosaminoglycan degradation and arginine biosynthesis being affected the most. Based on their findings, Hu et al. concluded that “changes in gut microbiota and metabolites are mainly associated with oxidative stress, immunity, and inflammatory responses.”

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Food Packaging Forum, 17-08-22