Food consumed in EU largely pesticide residue-free, states EFSA report

Food consumed in the European Union (EU) continues to be largely free of pesticide residues or to contain residues that fall within legal limits. This was stated in the latest monitoring report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

It revealed that more than 97 per cent of food samples collected across the EU in 2015 were within legal limits, with just over 53 per cent free of quantifiable residues. The figures are in line with those recorded in 2014.

Key points from the report
•    In 2015, the reporting countries analysed 84,341 samples for 774 pesticides
•    The majority of the samples (69.3 per cent) originated from EU member states, Iceland and Norway, and 25.8 per cent concerned products imported from third countries. The origin of the remaining samples was not reported
•    About 97.2 per cent of the samples analysed fell within the limits permitted in EU legislation. About 53.3 per cent of the samples tested were free of quantifiable residues, while 43.9 per cent contained residues not exceeding legal limits
•    Legal limits were exceeded in 5.6 per cent of the samples from non-EU countries, down from 6.5 per cent in 2014
•    For products from EU and EEA countries, legal limits were exceeded in 1.7 per cent of samples, a slight year-on-year increase (from 1.6 per cent)
•    Of the samples of foods intended for infants and young children, 96.5 per cent were free of residues or residues fell within legal limits
•    For organic foods, 99.3 per cent were residue-free or within legal limits
•    The majority of samples of animal products (84.4 per cent) were free of quantifiable residues

As part of its annual report, EFSA analysed the results of the EU-coordinated control programme (EUCP), under which reporting countries analysed samples from the same basket of food items. In 2015, the products were aubergines, bananas, broccoli, virgin olive oil, orange juice, peas, sweet peppers, table grapes, wheat, butter and eggs.

The highest exceedance rate recorded was for broccoli (3.4 per cent of the samples), followed by table grapes (1.7 per cent). Rare exceedances were found for olive oil, orange juice and chicken eggs. No exceedances were recorded for butter.

EFSA also performed a dietary risk assessment based on the EUCP. For both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) exposure, the Authority concluded that the risk to consumers was low.

The same products were analysed in 2012, and since then, the overall exceedance rate has fallen slightly from 0.9 per cent to 0.8 per cent in 2015.

In its report, EFSA made a number of recommendations for increasing the efficiency of the EU-coordinated and national control programmes.

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