Defra News Release (457/02), 11 November 2002
Food and Farming Minister Lord Whitty today announced the start of a further enforcement programme to crack down on illegal pesticide residues in winter lettuce over 2002/2003.
The Annual Report of the Pesticide Residues Committee for 2001 revealed that of over 4,000 food samples analysed, less than 1% contained illegal residues, and none were judged to present a safety risk to the consumer. Nevertheless the Department continues to be concerned about residues found in particular on winter lettuce, despite previous action taken to address the problem.
Lord Whitty said:
"Consumers need to be reassured that produce does not contain undesirable or unnecessary residues and that good agricultural practice is followed. And there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of growers do operate well within the bounds of good agricultural practice.
"But although there has been some improvement, the number of undesirable residues found in winter lettuce is still too high. For this reason we intend to conduct a further monitoring survey of winter lettuce this year, and we will continue to take firm action against growers or retailers where it is necessary to eradicate the problem. Where it is appropriate, legal action or naming those growers involved will be considered."
Following on from last year's extended monitoring programme, the survey will sample all points in the supply chain, from grower to retailer. Advisers from the Rural Development Service, who are authorised enforcement officers under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985, will take samples and make follow up enquiries where necessary.
Winter lettuce grown in the UK under glass is particularly prone to fungal attack during the cool damp winter months and there are only a limited number of products approved for disease control. To advise growers of good practice, a new advisory leaflet has been produced by the Pesticide Safety Directorate.
The following additional notes are included: