How many foods eaten by Europeans registered pesticides?

How many foods eaten by Europeans registered pesticides?

By Anastasia Gubin

The European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, published in March the magnitude of the presence of pesticides in 80,967 food products including those of the members of the European Union, plus Norway, Iceland, and 8,270 imported.

When selecting the most representative of the European Union, in the 2013 analyzes, traces of 209 different pesticides were found in 45 percent of a total of 11,582 samples in 12 different food products. Strawberries, peaches, and apples stood out for having high rates of multiple pesticides. Individually, strawberries and lettuces registered higher levels of risk.

In baby products, more than 7% had traces of pesticides and 0.7% exceeded the authorized brands. At the total sample level, 685 different pesticides were detected in raw unprocessed products and processed food products.

However, according to EFSA, the report only identifies areas of concern regarding compliance with legal limits and generally does not apply sanctions.

In this regard, it highlights that administrative or legal actions are imposed only in extreme cases, that is, not in all products that exceed the permitted values. The European organization did not reveal brands of the products that were found to be contaminated, including those for babies. In relation to the universe of 80 thousand samples, only 54.6% did not contain pesticide residues.

2.5% had levels considered as a risk (5.7% for imported products compared to 1.4% for products produced in the reporting countries). This means that "in general, 97.4% of the food samples analyzed fell within the legal limits", from EFSA.

EFSA justified the presence of pesticides in food, noting that “in light of current knowledge, the presence of residues found in food products covered by the EU surveillance programs and coordinations was unlikely to have a long-term effect on the health of consumers ”.

To which he added that “the probability of exposure to pesticide residues in food products covered by the EU coordinated program that exceed the toxicological threshold for short-term exposure, and that can lead to negative health outcomes, is low".

"As the results of pesticide residue testing are available only after most products have already been consumed, this report is not a tool to inform the public about imminent food-related risks." However, it cautions the risks and which pesticides and food products should focus on in national surveillance programs.

  • 80,967 samples,
  • 685 different pesticides analyzed,
  • on average 200 pesticides per product were analyzed,
  • 55,253 samples, 68.2% originated in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA),
  • 22,400 samples (27.7%) were affected products imported from third countries,
  • In 3,314 (4.1%) imported samples, the origin of the products was not reported.
  • 97.4% of the analyzed samples fell within the legal limits,
  • 54.6% of the samples analyzed were free of detectable residues,
  • 42.8% of the samples analyzed contained measurable residues that did not exceed the concentrations allowed by EFSA,
  • 2.6% of all samples exceeded maximum residue limits (2,116 samples),
  • 1.5% of the samples clearly exceeded the legal limits, taking into account the uncertainty of the measurement.

EU and European Economic Area (EEA)

  • Among the EU and EEA samples, 57.6% were free of measurable residues,
  • 41.0% contained residues, but within legal limits,
  • a total of 1.4% of the samples contained residues that exceeded the allowed concentrations,
  • 0.7% of the samples clearly exceeded the legal limit (non-conforming samples).

Imported products

  • 5.7% of products exceed pesticide levels, compared to 2012, which was 7.4%
  • 3.4% also do not comply,
  • 46.2% is free of residues,
  • 48.1% of the samples contained residues within the permitted limits.

More than one pesticide

  • Residues of more than one pesticide (multiple residues) were found in 27.3% of the samples (22,126 samples).

Illegal pesticides

  • Among the 2,788 individual samples that exceeded the legal limit, 878 cases (659 non-European) with unauthorized pesticides in the EU were reported.
  • In total, 8,270 samples of products from import controls -as specified in Regulation (EC) No 669/2009-, 557 samples (6.7%) exceeded the legal limit for one or more pesticides.

Baby food

  • 1,597 baby foods were analyzed:
  • 92.7% of the samples found no detectable residues,
  • in 116 samples (7.3%) there were residues,
  • 11 samples (0.7%) exceeded the maximum authorized levels.

4,620 organic products

  • 15.5% of the samples of organic products (717) had pesticide residues within legal limits,
  • in 0.8% the permitted levels were exceeded. In these samples, 134 different pesticides were identified.

EFSA does not identify in its public dissemination which are the contaminated products

"In most cases, the residues detected were related to pesticides that are allowed for organic farming, persistent environmental pollutants or residues of substances that are not necessarily related to the use of pesticides, but that may come from natural sources" , indicates the document.

Animal products

Most samples of animal products (8,257 samples) were free of measurable residues (88%, 7,265 samples).

However, pesticides were detected from persistent environmental pollutants, or compounds derived from sources other than the use of pesticides.

European program

Countries that reported were asked to analyze 12 different food products (apples, cabbage, leeks, lettuce, peaches (including nectarines), rye or oats, strawberries, tomatoes, cow's milk, pork, and wine).

  • 0.9% of the samples exceeded the allowed level,
  • 0.5% of the samples were found to be not compatible with the legal limit,
  • 46.3% had residues, but within the allowed level

"In the framework of the program coordinated by the EU, the exceedances of the MRLs for rye, cow's milk and pigmeat were not identified."

The highest rate of pesticides was found on strawberries (2.5% of the samples), followed by lettuce (2.3%), oats (1.3%), peaches (1.1%) and apples (1.0%).

The products with the highest percentage of samples with multiple residues were strawberries (63%), peaches (53%), apples (46%) and lettuce (36%).

The lowest occurrence levels were recorded for oats (28%), tomato (27%), wine (23%), rye (16%), leek (14%) and cabbages (4.8%).
The Epoch Times

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