Pesticides found in a third of our food
Nearly a third of food and drink products available in the UK contained pesticide traces, according to a report.
In 1.7% of cases the chemical residues exceeded maximum legal limits, according to the Pesticide Residue Committee's 2005 annual report.
A further 30.2% of the 3,787 items surveyed during last year had pesticide traces within those limits. In 2004 only 1.09% of samples contained pesticide traces above the statutory limits.
The increase is due to more imported exotic fruit and vegetables being tested, the Committee said.
Levels of pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables destined for schools as part of the "five a day" scheme were broadly similar to those in the general supply chain, the report says.
Of the 166 samples tested which were destined for school children, 132 contained chemical traces at or below the maximum permitted levels. Another three samples had residues above the legal limits.
Items tested in the overall survey included fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, cereal products, tea, olive oil, fruit juice and infant foods. No residues were found in chicken, eggs, infant formula, kidneys, milk or swede.
The 3,787 samples of imported and home produced food were collected from UK shops, markets, ports and wholesale suppliers.
The report summarises the findings of 39 surveys carried out during 2005 as part of the Pesticide Residue Committee's ongoing monitoring programme.
The Committee's chairman Dr Ian Brown said most of the residues were not a cause for health concerns amongst consumers.
"I cannot overemphasise the importance of continuing to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. The health benefits far outweigh any concern about pesticide residues," he said.
The Pesticide Residues Committee advises Ministers, the Food Standards Agency and the Pesticides Safety Directorate.
It has an annual budget of around £2.2 million per year and carries out an ongoing programme of food and drink monitoring.
The Committee publishes its findings every three months and then summarises them in annual reports.
Peter Melchett, policy director of the Soil Association, said: "Once again the Government committee that looks for pesticides in food, has claimed the pesticides found in the school fruit and vegetable scheme are "broadly similar" to fruit and vegetables you would buy in the supermarket.
"In fact, in the fruit where direct comparisons can be made - with apples and pears - just under 80% of supermarket fruit contained pesticides compared to a staggering 95% of apples and pears destined for schools.
"The only other direct comparison that can be made from the results published today is for cucumbers. Here under a third of supermarket cucumbers contained pesticides compared to half of the cucumbers destined for schools.
"Despite around 15-20% more of the school fruit and vegetable samples containing pesticides, the Pesticides Residues Committee claim that there is no real difference.
"They justify this by suggesting that pesticides found in food under what they term Maximum Residue Levels, simply doesn't count and can be ignored. The Soil Association thinks most parents disagree with this extraordinarily complacent and unscientific view."
Please help our fight against the New World Order by giving a donation. As bandwidth costs increase, the only way we can stay online and expand is with your support. Please consider giving a monthly or one-off donation for whatever you can afford. You can pay securely by either credit card or Paypal. Click here to donate.