Most pesticides in foreign fruit

Tuesday 09 Jul 13


Bodil Hamborg Jensen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 68

Foreign fruit generally has a higher content of pesticides than Danish fruit, and fruit has a higher content of pesticides than vegetables. Danes’ intake of pesticide residues appears to be on a par with the latest monitoring from 2003. The findings show that eating 600 grams of fruit and vegetables a day does not constitute a health risk. These are the findings of a new report from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, on pesticide residues in food.

The National Food Institute has gathered the findings of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s studies of pesticide residues in Danish food in the period 2004-2011. The calculations of the intake show that pesticide residues in foods on the Danish market do not constitute a health risk.

Pesticide residues are found primarily in fruit and vegetables. In general, pesticide residues are more often found in fruit than in vegetables, and foreign fruit contains more pesticide residues than Danish fruit. The share of Danish fruit with a content of pesticides under the EU maximum residue limits (MRL) for content in foods is between 38-67%. The corresponding share of foreign fruit with a content of pesticides is between 61-82% in the study period.

The average daily intake of pesticide residues is 98 micrograms for children and 146 micrograms for adults.

“The risk assessment showed that Danes have no risk of adverse health effects following exposure to pesticides in fruit and vegetables even following consumption of the recommended 600 grams of fruit and vegetables per day. If only commodities of Danish origin are consumed whenever possible Danes can reduce their intake of pesticide residues by 50%,” says Senior Adviser Bodil Hamborg Jensen from the National Food Institute.

Pesticide residues located in the peel

For most pesticides, studies show that the majority of the pesticide residues are often found in the non-edible part such as the peel.

“In tests involving oranges, tangerines and bananas we found pesticide residues in virtually all samples, but the analyses are carried out on products with peel. This type of fruit is peeled before you eat them whereby the majority of pesticide residues are sorted out,” says Bodil Hamborg Jensen from the National Food Institute.

Findings show no health risks

In 3.8% of the fruit and vegetables, the EU’s MRLs for pesticide residues in food are exceeded. In the report, the National Food Institute assessed both the health risk involved in eating a single pesticide and by eating several pesticides simultaneously through the average diet for both children and adults. In both cases, the findings show that the content of pesticide residues does not pose a health risk to consumers.

Read more 

See the report: Pesticide Residues. Findings from the period 2004 - 2011 (PDF)

17,309 samples of fruit, vegetables, grain products, meat, infant foods and other processed products from 2004-2011 have been analysed. The pesticide residues are linked to the nature and extent of the individual foods that Danes eat. All studies have been conducted at the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s laboratory in Ringsted, Denmark, and up to 250 pesticides have been analysed in the samples.