Food Law News - UK - 1999

16 September 1999: CONTAMINANTS - Results from Pesticides Monitoring Published

MAFF News Release (318/99), 16 September 1999

Results from Pesticides Monitoring Published

The annual report of the Working Party on Pesticide Residues (WPPR) was published today. It shows that over 98 per cent of foods tested in 1998 had residues below the legal maximum residue limit (MRL).

Of the 2,187 food samples tested 73 per cent had no detectable residues, 26 per cent contained residues below the MRL and 1.3 per cent were found to have levels above MRLs. MRLs are not safety limits and none of the residues which exceeded the MRL were high enough to cause concern for consumer safety.

The monitoring programme covers the main food groups such as bread, milk and potatoes and also incorporates a range of fruit, vegetables, cereal products and animal products. The samples are purchased mainly from retailers throughout the United Kingdom. The annual report includes brand name details on the samples analysed for the first time. A short summary leaflet explaining the work of the WPPR and the main findings in 1998 is also available.

Professor Ian Shaw, Independent Chairman of the WPPR, said:
"These findings are reassuring with almost three quarters of the food samples tested being free from detectable residues. This is particularly pleasing when set against a background of the increasing number of individual tests being carried out on the food samples analysed. We will keep a close watch on any areas where standards are being breached, and ensure that all results are published. The extremely small proportion of samples which exceeded the legal limits would not cause harm to consumers. The results demonstrate clearly that residues in food are not a cause for concern."

A sub-group of the Working Party is responsible for setting the annual monitoring programmes. The food tested and pesticides sought depends on the importance of the food in the diet and the likelihood of finding residues. Key findings of the 1998 monitoring programme are set out below.

The food groups analysed include: fruits and vegetables, cereal products, products of animal origin, fish and fish products. The Working Party on Pesticide Residues was established in 1977 to co-ordinate the monitoring of pesticide residues in food and animal feeding stuffs, in human tissues and in wildlife and the environment. The Working Party reports to the independent Advisory Committee on Pesticides and the Food Advisory Committee

The Annual Report this year includes for the first time brand name details for samples tested. This information is included as an Annex to the main report. Samples which were found to contain non-approved pesticides or those exceeding the MRL are highlighted in bold in the Annex. The interpretation of this information is explained in Section 3 of the main report.

The Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels in Crops, Food and Feeding Stuffs) Regulations 1994 (SI No 1985) as amended, are quoted throughout the report. These Regulations superseded the Pesticides (Maximum Residue Levels in Food) Regulations 1988. The Regulations apply throughout Great Britain and equivalent Regulations are in force in Northern Ireland. A full list of the relevant legislation is included in Appendix VII of the main report.

To go to current UK Food Law News page,
click here.
To go to main Food Law Index page, click here.