Up to 98% of fruit and veg contains pesticide

The amount of food contaminated with pesticide residues has nearly doubled in a decade, a new report from the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) reveals.

Pesticides On A Plate, which uses official government data on pesticides (last updated in 2011), shows that half of all fruit and vegetables contain pesticide residues – rising to 98% for some produce.

The worrying increase in the amount of food affected by pesticide residues is due an increasingly heavy use of the chemicals by non-organic farmers, says PAN.

Whilst most cases of pesticide contamination fall inside international safety limits, there is a growing concern about the cumulative ‘cocktail effect’ of different chemicals, even when present at low levels.

The PAN report shows that old advice that washing fruit and vegetables would remove remaining pesticides is now discredited. Even official food safety agencies – such as the UK’s Food Standards Agency – recognise that it is often ineffective.

Catherine Fookes of the Organic Trade Board, the trade association behind the Organic, Naturally Different campaign, said: “The increasing presence (of pesticides) is worrying and needs to be addressed. Consumers can, and should, be asking questions.”