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European Union food again found largely free of pesticides

Food consumed in the European Union (EU) continues to be either largely free of pesticide residues or to contain only residues the fall within legal limits, new figures show.    The latest monitoring report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) finds that more than 97 percent of food samples collected across the EU in 2015 were within legal limits and that just over 53 percent were free of quantifiable residues.   The figures are in line with those recorded in 2014.  Among the key findings are:

  • In 2015, the reporting countries examined 84,341 samples for 774 pesticides.
  • The majority of the samples (69.3 percent) originated from EU Member States, Iceland and Norway; 25.8percent  concerned products imported from third countries. The origin of the remaining samples was not reported.
  • europroduce_406x25097.2 percent of the samples studied fell within the limits permitted in EU legislation. 53.3 percent of the samples tested were free of quantifiable residues while 43.9 percent contained residues not exceeding legal limits.
  • Legal limits were exceeded in 5.6 percent of the samples from non-EU countries, down from 6.5 percent in 2014.
  • For products from EU and EEA countries, legal limits were exceeded in 1.7 percent of samples, a slight year-on-year increase (from 1.6 percent).
  • Of the samples of foods intended for infants and young children, 96.5 percent were free of residues or residues fell within legal limits.
  • For organic foods, 99.3 percent were residue-free or within legal limits.
  • The majority of samples of animal products (84.4 percent) were free of quantifiable residues.

The 2015 pesticides residues report at a glance

Use the interactive report to go beyond the headline figures and find out more about the findings from 2015.

As part of the  annual report, EFSA’s review of  the results of the EU-coordinated control program (EUCP), under which reporting countries examine samples from the same “basket” of food items. For 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 percent of samples), followed by table grapes (1.7 percent). 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 also examined in 2012, since when the overall exceedance rate has fallen slightly from 0.9 percent  to 0.8 percent in 2015.

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

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