Food Contamination Continues

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)  published recently the results of the monitoring of pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables for the year 2013. Again the level of toxic mixtures in the food available on the market appears to have increased: 27,3% of all fruit and vegetables analysed contain more than one pesticide, up from 26,1% in 2012. The products with the highest percentage of samples with multiple residues were strawberries (63 %), peaches (53 %), apples (46 %) and lettuce (36 %).  12% of the strawberries (1 out of every 8 box of strawberries) even contain more than 6 pesticide residues.

It is important to note that people in Europe are not protected against the health effects of these toxic mixtures of pesticides. PAN Europe blames Food Authority EFSA for not presenting good methods to assess mixture toxicity and fail already for 9 years now since the Residue Directive 396/2005 mandates them to present methods. PAN Europe concludes that the current food standards do not protect against toxic mixtures, are not safe and should be made stricter urgently. For years EFSA claims that pesticide residues in food pose no risks to humans but this claim is clearly false and unscientific.

The percentage of food without any detectable residues went down to 57,6 % from 59,9 % in 2012.  In the last five years this percentage seemed to rise from an all time low percentage of 52  in 2006 but now decreases again unfortunately.

Pesticide residues have no place at all in food and the European Commission and EU member states should aim for zero residues in all our food to exclude all risks.

The percentage of exceedances of the current standards remained at the same level in the last years (2,5 – 2,9%). This percentage is less relevant for different reasons.  First of all, the food standards were massively relaxed in 2009 to please food traders and exceedances will have gone down for no reason but a commercial one, not based on scientific reasons. Secondly, mixture toxicity is not taken into account and this greatly underestimates the combined effects of pesticide residues.

Link to Pesticide residues in food

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Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.