Pesticides in food

THE European Union (EU) has warned consumers that a large proportion of fruits and vegetables are contaminated with pesticides. The problem could be big enough to warrant checks on imported foods to guarantee their safety, said officials. In a report published in November, the EU said that about 40 per cent of fruits and vegetables contained pesticide residues and three per cent of samples exceeded EU limits for contamination. Lettuce was found to have the highest amounts of residues, followed by grapes, strawberries, apples and tomatoes.

The findings were drawn from an analysis of over 40,000 samples from all 15 member states. An earlier EU survey indicated that consumers would only tolerate products found to be completely free of contamination. The latest findings are likely to cause concern. European farmers use over 800 different pesticides but only 73 have been given a maximum authorised limit by the EU, which regulates the residue levels of pesticides to minimise exposure to con- sumers. But European consumer affairs commissioner E Bonino said it is time to start checking goods imported from outside the EU.

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