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Good news on food pesticide residue levels

More than 97% of food samples evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contain pesticide residue levels that fall within legal limits, with just under 55% of samples free of detectable traces of these chemicals. The findings are part of EFSA’s 2013 annual report on pesticide residues in food, which includes the results for almost 81,000 food samples from 27 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway.

The 29 reporting countries carry out two monitoring programmes for the report: a national programme designed by each country, and an EU-coordinated programme under which all food control authorities monitor the same “basket” of food products. A combined total of 80,967 samples of a wide variety of processed and unprocessed food products were tested for the presence of 685 pesticides. The main findings are:

  • 97.4% of the samples analysed fell within legal limits;
  • 54.6% were free of detectable residues;
  • 1.5% clearly exceeded the legal limits, taking into account the measurement uncertainty, thus triggering legal or administrative sanctions against the food business operators responsible;
  • Residues of more than one pesticide (multiple residues) were found in 27.3% of samples.
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