Food & Flavour

Vast majority of foods in EU contain none/below legal limits of pesticides

The latest annual report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on pesticide residues in food found the  majority of food eaten in Europe is free from pesticide residues or contains levels within legal limits. More than 50% of the 84,657 samples were completely free from quantifiable pesticide residues, with 96% of the samples were within legal limits.

The report shared results of the 84,657 samples from 2016 analysed for 791 pesticides, where 81,482 were within the legal limits. In the previous report, samples from 2015 showed 97.2% of samples to be within legal limits, with 53.3% free of quantifiable residues. This difference is accounted for by the addition of analysing for chlorate residues, to support ongoing work to establish maximum residue levels (MRLs). Legal limits were exceeded in 2.4% of samples from the EU/EEA countries and 7.2% of those from non-EU countries.

Foods included in the tests were lettuce, leek, apples, strawberries, tomatoes, cow’s milk, rye and head cabbage. The lowest levels of pesticide residues exceeding the legal limit were identified in rye, cabbage and strawberries, with the highest being in apples and tomatoes.

EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitus concluded: “We owe it to European citizens to make sure that the EU’s food chain not only remains the most stringent and controlled in the world but is one that we are very serious about continuously improving.”