Biotech Updates

EFSA Report Says 98% of Pesticide Residues in Food in the EU within Legal Limits

April 21, 2021

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published the latest report on pesticide residues in food in the European Union, providing insights into the levels of residue found in a selection of products consumed in the region.

Of the total 96,302 samples analyzed in 2019, 96.1% fell within legally permitted levels. For the subset of 12,579 samples analyzed as part of the EU-coordinated control program (EUCP), 98% were within legal limits.

The EUCP analyzed samples randomly collected from 12 food products, including apples, head cabbages, lettuce, peaches, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, oat grain, barley grain, wine (red and white), cow's milk, and swine fat. Of those samples analyzed, these are their findings:

  • 6,674 or 53% were found to be free of quantifiable levels of residues; 
  • 5,664 or 45% contained one or more residues in concentrations below or equal to permitted levels; and
  • 241 or 2% contained residues exceeding the legal maximum of which 1% led to legal actions.

The coordinated program covers similar products on a three-year rotation, showing upward or downward trends for specific goods. Compared to 2016, the exceedance rate fell for peaches (from 1.9% to 1.5%), lettuce (2.4% to 1.8%), apples (2.7% to 2.1%) and tomatoes (2.6% to 1.7%). Exceedances rose for strawberries (1.8% to 3.3%), head cabbages (1.1% to 1.9%), wine grapes (0.4% to 0.9%) and swine fat (0.1% to 0.3%). As in 2016, no exceedances were found in cow's milk.

The results are available on EFSA's website as browsable charts and graphs, making the data more accessible to non-specialists. For more details, read the article in EFSA Newsroom.

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