"Pesticides in a third of foods"

ABC News, September 30, 2005,
Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4296576.stm

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 only 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.

"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