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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
Pesticides in a third of foods
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It is important to wash fruits and vegetables before eating
A third of the foods we eat contain traces of pesticides, government-backed tests reveal, but most fall within legal limits.

The chemicals were found in 31% of 3,854 foodstuffs analysed, including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, bread and drink from 24 UK cities.

However, in 42 of the samples - about 1% - were the levels above legal limits.

The Pesticide Residues Committee said their findings were reassuring.

But campaigners said they would like to see more precautionary measures to reduce levels of contamination.

Only a very small percentage of the samples studied contained levels of pesticides that could be a risk to health, said the annual report.

Wash fruit or cook vegetables when necessary to reduce any risk from pesticides
A spokeswoman from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

"In these cases, if the food had been eaten without any preparation there could have been a small risk of mild, reversible health effects," it said.

Washing or peeling fruit and vegetables before eating them can reduce the risk further, they said.

Thirty-nine of the 42 samples containing levels above the legal limit were either fruit or veg.

The others included a sample of infant food and two samples of oats.

Five of the pesticides detected originated from within the UK and 37 were from outside the UK.

Dr Ian Brown, chairman of the committee, said: "People should not be concerned by very low pesticide residues in our food.

"Our findings indicate that food suppliers are ensuring a high rate of compliance with legislation relating to the use of pesticides."

A spokeswoman from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "We would always advise you to wash fruit or cook vegetables when necessary to reduce any risk from pesticides.

"With some produce, oranges for instance, removing the outer layer immediately limits exposure."

Barbara Dinham, director of the Pesticide Action Network, said: "The fact that only about 1% of the samples had levels above legal limits is to be welcomed.

"However, we would like to see more precautionary measures and a downward trend.

"Some pesticides have an accumulative effect and can be damaging to health."


SEE ALSO:
Pesticide levels 'pose no threat'
29 Jun 05 |  Science/Nature
Pesticides
08 Feb 03 |  Medical notes


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