The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published an annual report on pesticide residues in foods for 2012. The report shows that 97% of the samples tested contained residue levels within EU legal limits.
The report is based on analysis of nearly 79,000 food samples in 27 EU member states, plus Iceland and Norway. Samples were taken both for national surveillance programmes and for an EU-coordinated programme that requires food control authorities in each country to undertake pesticide monitoring.
The EU-coordinated programme for 2012 looked at 12 different food products, which were analysed for 205 different pesticides. Overall, the samples taken in the 29 countries covered over 750 different foods and were analysed for almost 800 pesticides and metabolites.
The overall results showed that over 54% of the samples contained no detectable residues at all and that organic products had lower maximum residue level (MRL) exceedance rates than non-organics (0.8% versus 3.1%). Foods imported into the EU were much more likely to exceed legal limits than domestically produced foods (7.5% versus 1.4%) and the products most likely to exceed MRL were broccoli, cauliflower, table grapes, sweet peppers and aubergines.
On the basis of the results contained in the report, EFSA has concluded that pesticide residues in food are unlikely to have a long-term effect on the health of European consumers.
The report can be found in full here.