07 Aug 2002
A new survey by Friends of the Earth shows that 60% of fruit and vegetables
sold in Somerfield over the past four years contain pesticide
residues. The results make the retail chain the worst performer out
of the nine supermarkets surveyed.
The Friends of the Earth survey is based on data published by the Pesticides Safety Directorate between 1998 and 2001 . The latest pesticide residue results ( for the first quarter of 2002) are due to be published later today (Wednesday) .
Pesticides commonly found in supermarket foods include substances suspected
of interfering with the hormone and nervous systems. Friends of the
Earth is calling on retailers to phase out the use of the most risky
pesticides. So far only Marks and Spencer and Co-op have introduced
policies to phase-out particular pesticides and aim for residue free
food. Both retailers have recently signed up to Friends of the Earths
toxic pledge which also requires them to phase out other risky chemicals,
such as Bisphenol A (found in food can linings).
Other retailers are lagging behind, despite claims they make to their customers. Sainsburys prints a message on its plastic bags claiming were committed to using natural alternatives to pesticides where possible. But nearly half (48%) of its fruit and veg contains residues.
The Government must do more too. In June the Food Standards Agency agreed that action was needed to minimise pesticide residues in food and that the ultimate aim should be to ensure that they are not to be detected at the point of sale. In order to meet this aim Friends of the Earth wants the Government to introduce strict limits for pesticides in fruit and vegetables and put more resources into helping UK growers produce residue-free food. On 1 July this year new regulations prohibited pesticides in processed baby food because infants need special protection. But the same rules do not apply to fresh food.
Sandra Bell, pesticide campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said
There is too much hype from supermarkets about their plans to cut pesticide use, and not enough action. Only the Co-op and M&S have made a real commitment to getting pesticides out of their food. Government action is needed too. Stricter limits for pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables must be introduced and more is needed to help UK farmers produce pesticide-free food.
1. The Government regularly monitors food sold in the UK for pesticide residues. The results are revealed in a quarterly report. Information includes the type of food bought, where it was bought from, the number of samples taken, and what level of pesticide residue (if any) was found. FOE has taken this data from the past 4 years to compile its survey. The data used by FOE excludes special surveys which only look for a limited range of pesticides
Percentage of fruit and vegetables containing pesticide residues
Friends of the Earth
26-28 Underwood St.
Tel: 020 7490 1555
Fax: 020 7490 0881