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44 pct food has some pesticide residues, not harmful: EU report

20 April 2017, 17:05 CET
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44 pct food has some pesticide residues, not harmful: EU report

Photo by Brian Robert Marshall

(PARMA) - Food consumed in the European Union continues to be largely free of pesticide residues or to contain residues that fall within legal limits, new figures show.

The latest monitoring report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reveals that more than 97% of food samples collected across the EU in 2015 were within legal limits, with just over 53% free of quantifiable residues.

The report finds that 97.2% of the samples analysed fell within the limits permitted in EU legislation. 53.3% of the samples tested were free of quantifiable residues while 43.9% contained residues not exceeding legal limits.

Legal limits were exceeded in 5.6% of the samples from non-EU countries, down from 6.5% in 2014. While for products from EU and EEA countries, legal limits were exceeded in 1.7% of samples, a slight year-on-year increase (from 1.6%).

Of the samples of foods intended for infants and young children, 96.5% were free of residues or residues fell within legal limits.

For organic foods, 99.3% were residue-free or within legal limits.

The majority of samples of animal products (84.4%) were free of quantifiable residues.

The majority of the samples (69.3%) analysed fore the survey originated from EU Member States, Iceland and Norway; 25.8% concerned products imported from third countries. The origin of the remaining samples was not reported.

2015 pesticide residues report at a glance

As part of its report, EFSA analyses the results of the EU-coordinated control programme (EUCP), under which reporting countries analyse samples from the same 'basket' of food items. For 2015 the products were aubergines, bananas, broccoli, virgin olive oil, orange juice, peas, sweet peppers, table grapes, wheat, butter and eggs.

The highest exceedance rate recorded was for broccoli (3.4% of samples), followed by table grapes (1.7%). Rare exceedances were found for olive oil, orange juice and chicken eggs. No exceedances were recorded for butter.

EFSA also performed a dietary risk assessment based on the EUCP. For both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) exposure the Authority concluded that the risk to consumers was low.

2015 European Union report on pesticide residues in food

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