A breach of maximum pesticide residue limits in fruit destined for the government’s school fruit and vegetable scheme poses little risk to the health of children, the Pesticides Residue Committee insists.
The PRC tested 58 samples of fruit and veg during the last autumn term. It discovered traces of the chemicals dimethoate and omethoate exceeding maximum levels by four times in a batch of Portuguese pears.
In a subsequent report, the PRC said: “The risk assessment concluded that children in the 4-10 age groups consuming this produce would not experience any adverse health effects. It is possible that toddlers (including three-year-olds) may experience some short-term effects, although this is unlikely.”
Tests have linked dimethoate and omethoate with gastrointestinal problems.
Importer Minor Weir & Willis, which supplied the Rocha pears, said it was likely the crop had been contaminated during the spraying of nearby olive trees. It said it would no longer source fruit from areas that posed a risk of cross-contamination.
Ian Brown, chairman of the PRC, said: “My committee recognises that some consumers or parents are concerned at the presence of pesticide residues in foodstuffs.
“The monitoring we carry out on school scheme produce and that in the general supply chain indicates that the residues we ingest will not affect our health.
“The positive effects of eating fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced, healthy diet far outweigh any concern about pesticide residues.”