EU call for vigilance on pesticide residues

Pesticides found in 40% of fruits, vegetables, national or EU limits exceeded in 3%

EU consumer safety commissioner Emma Bonino has called for stronger action to control pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables following publication of a first EU-wide survey of levels of seven pesticides in five fruits and vegetables. EU member states "must make sure that maximum residue levels (MRLs) are respected," Ms Bonino said. She also called for "systematic health checks" to be introduced at the EU's frontiers to check fruit and vegetables being imported. An annual EU pesticide residue survey is to be introduced from now on, according to the European Commission. Released today, the EU-wide results show that residues were found most often in lettuce, followed by grapes strawberries, apples and tomatoes. Two types of fungicides were found most often in samples: dithiocarbamate and pesticides of the benomyl group. Alongside the EU data, the Commission has also published national monitoring programmes results in 1996 from 13 EU countries plus Norway. These show that pesticide residues were found in 40% of samples, that 13% of samples contained more than one pesticide, and that EU or national MRLs were exceeded in 3% of cases. The Commission cautions, however, that differences between the national results are more likely to reflect differences in monitoring programmes than differences in the presence of pesticides. No national monitoring data were available from France and Austria.
          Percentage of samples with residues:
            < mrl=""> any MRL     > EU MRLs
Belgium       52           -            1
Denmark       23           -            1
Finland       51           6            3
Germany       33           2            -
Greece        18           6            1
Ireland       43           3            3
Italy         33           2            1
Luxembourg    30           6            1
Netherlands   47           4            -
Portugal       -           4            1
Spain         18           6            1
Sweden        39           4            2
UK            38           1            0.1
Norway        36           1            -
TOTAL:        39           3            1

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