Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited
The annual report of the Working Party on Pesticide Residues has shown that 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 the MRL. MRLs are not safety limits and none of the residues which exceeded the MRL was high enough to cause concern for consumer safety. The monitoring programme covers the main food groups such as bread, milk and potatoes and a range of fruit, vegetables, cereal and animal products. The samples were purchased mainly from retailers throughout the UK. For the first time in many years, no residues of lindane were detected in milk. The survey of meat based infant foods found no detectable pesticide residues although low level residues were detected in 16 per cent of the samples of fruit and vegetable based infant foods. However, it was reported that none of the residues would be harmful to infants. Residues of chlormequat were found to be above the statutory maximum residue levels and residues were also detected in some UK pears which suggests that this pesticide is being used although it is not permitted for use in the UK. A small minority of UK lettuce growers are still using illegal pesticides on winter lettuce. MAFF's enforcement programme has so far resulted in five successful prosecutions for this offence. Members of the public can call 01904 455775 to get information from the Pesticide Safety Directorate about pesticide residues in food. The Annual Report is also available, free of charge, from MAFF publications, PB No. 4546 by writing to ADMAIL 6000, London SW1A 2XX. A short summary leaflet is available from the Pesticide Safety Directorate, 312 Mallard House, Kings Pool, 3 Peasholme Green, York YO1 7PX.