Pesticide Residues Committee publishes 2009 annual report

UK Pesticide Residues Committee publishes 2009 annual report

Date: 8 October 2010

The 2009 Annual Report of the independent Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) is published today.

The report draws together the results of the UK’s programme of pesticide residues testing in food and drink for 2009.

Over 3,800 samples of both imported and home-produced food were collected from many sources including shops, markets, ports and wholesale suppliers, and tested for a wide range of different pesticides. Results are published every quarter and then summarised at the end of the year in this annual report.

Findings indicate that there is a high rate of compliance with legislation relating to the use of pesticides and maximum residue levels (MRL), and that the pesticide residues found were not likely to pose a risk to consumer health.

In 60.8 per cent of the food sampled no pesticide residues were found. 1.1 per cent contained residues above the permitted maximum levels.

The PRC carried out risk assessments of its results, which included looking at the most vulnerable people such as children and the elderly. Where problems were identified, these were followed up by the relevant authorities to maintain high standards of protection.

Chairman of the PRC, Dr Ian Brown, said:

We continue to strengthen the programme and in 2009 again increased the number of pesticides we looked for. We also continued with our rapid response surveys with results for grapes and pears being published monthly.

“We found no increase in the incidence of residues above the MRL, despite the increase in the number of pesticides tested for and the introduction of many new MRLs as a result of legislation introduced in the autumn of 2008.”

He added:

“As a doctor, I remain of the view that eating a healthy diet with a good mix of fruit and vegetables is beneficial to us all. There is a wealth of scientific evidence that shows the numerous benefits of a healthy balanced diet outweigh any concerns about pesticide residues.”

As well as summarising the results of the monitoring programme, the report provides information about the role of the committee and their work throughout 2009 and takes a forward look at the monitoring programme.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Pesticide Residues Committee advises Ministers, the Health and Safety Executive’s Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
  2. The committee is chaired by Dr Ian Brown (OBE BSc Agric, FRCP, FFOM), who is Director of Occupational Health at the University of Oxford and Honorary Consultant Physician in Occupational Medicine to Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust Department of Public Health. The membership and terms of reference of the PRC are included in the report as well as information about related expenditure.
  3. The Annual Report covers the 2009 monitoring programme. It summarises the findings from 41 surveys involving fruit and vegetables, animal products, cereal products and some processed products like jam, fruit teas, paté and infant food.
  4. The Annual Report and detailed quarterly reports for 2009 are available on the PRC website [1] or by contacting the committee Secretariat (email, Tel: 01904 455756) or at PRC Secretariat, Mallard House, Kings Pool, 3 Peasholme Green, York YO1 7PX.
  5. The MRL is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue – expressed as milligrams per kilogram, or parts per million – legally permitted in or on our food and animal feeds. The levels are not safety limits, but are set at levels which protect the consumer. They are primarily a check that good agricultural practice is being followed, and an MRL exceedance does not automatically imply a hazard to health.

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Pesticide Residues Committee publishes 2009 annual report.