PAN EuropeNews


Press Release

17 December 2009

What's for Christmas dinner? Food industry flouts EU pesticide limits

As Christmas approaches, PAN Europe has asked if the fresh food on Europe's dining tables is safe. Its survey, in four EU countries this autumn, shows that most produce sampled had multiple traces of harmful pesticides, often several times maximum permitted doses. Two samples had illegal substances.

"We're appalled at the contempt growers, retailers and government are showing for public health", said Gergely Simon, a PAN Europe board member. "Parents are feeding children produce containing known carcinogens and neurotoxins in doses which often vastly exceed even the more relaxed pesticide limits introduced by the EU last year. Customers should insist that their supermarket reveals what chemicals are being used on its food."

"Our tests have revealed endocrine disruptors, which affect human hormones", said Hans Muilerman, also from PAN Europe. "This reinforces the need for the EU Environmental Council which meets next week to produce a system for assessing endocrines in food and consumer goods and regulate their combined effects."

Fifty-one lettuces and 47 mandarin oranges bought in supermarkets around Bulgaria, Hungary, the Netherlands and Slovakia were tested. The survey discovered that:-

  • One Bulgarian lettuce contained a gene-mutating compound at over sixty times the permitted level
  • Nearly all the mandarins analysed (96%) contained pesticide traces
  • Fruit bought in Dutch supermarkets was highly polluted, containing an average of three pesticides per sample
  • Procymidone and vinclozolin, illegal and dangerous toxins, were found
  • Lettuce bought in Slovakia contained seven different pesticide residues including biphenthrin, an agent which interferes with human hormones

PAN Europe has campaigned against manipulation of maximum pesticide residue levels in food, where producers pick the highest available level in any EU country. In 2008, the European Parliament raised the pesticide threshold, drastically increasing doses to which consumers are exposed. The European Court of Justice is hearing a case brought by PAN against the Commission challenging this increase. The EU has begun responding to public concern. In November over 100 residue levels were reduced (some by up to 800 times) because they were unsafe. Full details of the investigation are available on the PAN Europe website: Study of Pesticide and Biocide Contamination of Fruit and Vegetables in Four EU Member States

For further information please contact:
Peter Clarke, Media Coordinator, PAN Europe
Tel: +32 (0)2 808 3473

— ENDS —

< Back

Newsletter signup

Find your local group

PAN Europe campaignsAgriculture
National Action Plans
  home    about us     what we do    campaigns    issues     resources    news    newsletter    donate    join PAN Europe    links    credits  
copyright © PAN Europe, Rue de la Pépinière 1, B-1000, Brussel, Tel. + 32 2503 0837, Fax. + 32 2402 3042