EU publishes second pesticide residues survey

Over one-third of fruit, vegetables, cereals, found to contain pesticide residues

The results of an EU programme to monitor pesticide levels in fruit, vegetables and cereals shows that over half of the samples analysed in 1997 were contaminated with pesticide residues. Published by the European Commission's consumer affairs directorate, the report covers the national monitoring programmes of the 15 EU member states and Norway as well as the EU coordinated programme. The results show that 36% of the samples analysed contained residues of pesticides at or below national or EU-harmonised maximum residue levels (MRLs); in 3.4% of cases residue levels exceeded either national or the EU MRLs; residues of more than one pesticide were found in 16% of samples and more than four different pesticides in 1.5% of cases. The EU rapid alert system for foodstuffs was invoked when a notification was received from Norway about contaminated vegetables from China. The 1997 monitoring results are not directly comparable with those in a similar report published for 1996 (ENDS Daily 24 November 1998) since cereals were not covered. The reports follow a 1996 Commission recommendation that each EU member state participate in a harmonised monitoring programme, with the aim of finding out dietary levels of pesticides.
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Percentage of samples with residues:        
         any MRL   any MRL   EU MRLs
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Austria     24       2       2 
Belgium     41      10       3 
Denmark     31       2       2 
Finland     38       3       2 
France      51       9       7 
Germany     43       3       3 
Greece      36       3       3 
Ireland     49       4       4 
Italy       21       1       1 
Luxembourg  33       6       4 
Portugal    35       3       3 
Spain       38       2       - 
Sweden      33       3       2 
UK          33       1       1 
Norway      33       2       1 
EU + Norway 36       3       2
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Follow Up:
European Commission,, tel: +32 2 295 1111. References: "Monitoring for Pesticide Residues in Products of Plant Origin, in the European Union and Norway - Report 1997."

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