EU pesticide residue tracking "lacks resources"

Commission says system "generally" working well despite lack of minimum standards

An EU monitoring programme to ensure pesticide residues in cereals, fruit and vegetables stay within safe limits is generally working well but is hampered because resources available "are not always satisfactory," according to a review published by the European Commission.

"As often, the main criterion driving the sampling is the availability of resources, and this tends to be limited," the report states. It also says there are no minimum monitoring standards and that few laboratories are accredited to analyse samples. The Commission's own powers to make inspections are "limited," it says.

The Commission has already published the results of the monitoring programme for 1996 and 1997 (ENDS Daily 8 September 1999). In both years well over half of the produce tested was pesticide-free while less than 4% exceeded maximum residue limits; this, says the report, is a "concern" and could be linked to unauthorised pesticide use. The Commission stresses that, despite the monitoring deficiencies, there is "no health concern for any of the pesticide-product combinations analysed".

A more comprehensive study of pesticide intake by eating contaminated produce is to be published next year, but again the Commission says this work has been slowed because complementary data on diets is not monitored under the 1986 and 1990 pesticide residues directives. The recent white paper on food safety had addressed the issue, it said.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111;

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