The 2009 EU report on pesticide residues, published today by EFSA, shows food on the European market is still heavily contaminated with cocktails of pesticides. The percentage of EU food in shops and markets with multiple residues remains at a high level of 25,1%, meaning only a slight improvement in the last 5 years of reporting (see Figure). The highest reported number of pesticide residues in one food item remains at 26: One sample analysed in the Netherlands (raisins from Turkey) with 26 different pesticides!
While almost every EU citizen will be exposed to mixtures of pesticides on a daily basis, EFSA and Commission still do not protect people against the effects of mixtures. Health standards of pesticide residues do not take these effects into account. Remarkably EFSA itself is delaying the implementation of the 2005-residue Directive-rules obliging regulators to take mixture effects into account. People, especially children and the unborn, will be put at unknown but potential high risks by this delay of over 6 years.
Exceedances of the food standards in the national residue monitoring programmes seem to have gone down from 3,5% in 2008 to 2,6% in 2009 but a comparison is not possible given the massive changes of food standards (MRL’s) in 2009. Many tenths of thousands of food standards have been relaxed by EFSA to the highest level they could find anywhere in an European Member state. While EFSA now recognised that this approach was not justified and food standards are made stricter again, the massive relaxation remains.
On the positive side in the 2009-monitoring report, the percentage of food items on the European market without measurable residues rose slightly to 57,5%, up from around 53% in 2008 and 2007.
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Hans Muilerman, PAN Europe, hans [at] pan-europe.info,Tel: +31 (0)6-55807255.