News

Report says Irish fruit and veg covered in various chemicals

NewsBy Lynne Kelleher
Health risk: Pesticides can keeps costs down but pose a threat
Health risk: Pesticides can keeps costs down but pose a threat

Over half of our everyday food show traces of pesticides – with some single pieces of fruit sold in Irish shops containing over 10 different traces of the chemicals.

The latest study carried out on Irish groceries shows that over half of the foods tested contained residues, but only two per cent contained traces of pesticide greater than the legal limit.
 
Up to 11 different pesticides were found in a pear sample from Portugal, a peach from Spain showed up to eight different pesticides, while up to 12 different pesticides were found in a strawberry sample from Ireland – but all these were below the maximum levels.
 
All of the 32 foods which did exceed the legal limit were fruit and vegetables, including imported oranges, strawberries, beans, peas, broccoli and mushrooms.
 
“Produce from outside the EU accounted for 21 exceedances, produce from other EU countries accounted for seven exceedances and produce of domestic origin accounted for the remaining four exceedances,” said the report.
 
But the latest Department of Agriculture report for 2013 did show all milk, eggs, ham and infant and baby food samples were completely clear of chemicals, which gives a boost to  Ireland’s reputation as one of the safest producers of baby formula in the world.
 
At present, this country is one of the leading producers of baby milk formula on the planet, with three of the top baby formula producers based in Ireland due to the highly nutritious milk from our grass-fed cows. In three per cent of the cases, the pesticide on citrus fruits breached the maximum residue allowed.
 
In one of the most serious cases, the report revealed that one head of cabbage from Ireland contained a level of the herbicide Fluazifop-P, which indicated a possible acute risk to consumers. In the other case which posed a health risk to the public, an assignment of the salad vegetable Okra, from India, was destroyed for “unacceptable risk to consumers”.
 
Fruit and vegetables sold in the supermarket are grown with the help of a large cocktail of pesticides. Advocates say the chemicals protect crops and boost yields, which helps to keep food prices down.
 
There were three Irish cases where growers breached the legal limit of pesticides relating to cabbage, potatoes and Swedes.