Foods pass pesticide tests

More than half of the UK foods tested in an independent study had no detectable residues of pesticides, and a further 45% were within legal limits.

The Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) found that only 33 of the 1053 samples tested, or 3.1%, contained residues that were above the maximum permitted levels – and none of these were likely to cause concern for people’s health.

The tests, carried out up to June this year, are part of a £2m annual food and drink monitoring programme carried out by the PRC on a range of foods from retailers, wholesalers, packers, farmers, ports and processors.

A total of 22 different foods were tested and no residues were detected in any of the samples of milk, yoghurt, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

However, six samples of celery and nine samples of grapes breached the maximum permitted levels.

Committee chairman Dr Ian Brown said: “The majority of food sampled either does not contain detectable residues or where residues are found, they are in accordance with legal limits.

“The PRC have looked carefully at all of the residues above the MRL. We are satisfied that all the results are unlikely to be of concern for consumer health.”

He added that the maximum legal levels for pesticides had changed shortly before the samples were taken, which may have affected the results.

The PRC study also examined 49 samples of fruits and vegetables supplied to school children.

Eleven did not contain any detectable residues, and 35 were within legal limits, however three samples, including apples and sugar snap peas had breached the limit.

Dr Brown said the level of pesticides detected was not harmful to human health.

He added: “The Deparment of Health have indicated that they have followed up the three trading infringements with the suppliers concerned to minimise re-occurrence.

“The results should reassure parents that the fruit and vegetables their children eat continue to be safe.”

Kate Martin

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