Growers of exotic vegetables abroad are failing to get to grips with complex rules on pesticide residue limits, according to the Fresh Produce Consortium.
Under forthcoming EU harmonisation of Maximum Residue Limits, some have effectively been reduced to zero.
However, growers in countries such as Egypt, Cyprus, Kenya and Thailand are unaware of the new regulations, which means their products could in future breach MRLs, said the FPC.
And there are fears that environmental and health groups could use any published results as a stick to beat the fresh produce sector.
FPC chief executive Nigel Jenney said: “These are modest excesses and would present no
risk at all to human health, but there are concerns that they could be taken out of context.”
Jenney said the FPC had implemented a series of initiatives designed to promote awareness of the new protocols among growers and marketing
organisations in certain countries, but called on the EU to do more.
“We need an awareness campaign in these countries. If a producer country is not aware of what is and isn’t acceptable then it is very difficult for it to achieve what is required.” Jenney’s comments followed the publication of the Pesticide Residue Committee’s latest pesticide surveillance survey.
PRC chairman Ian Brown said: “None of the results gave me any concern for consumer health. There is a relatively high occurrence of maximum residue level excesses in samples of chillies and speciality beans tested.
“However, the majority were technical, all at very low levels. Action was taken to inform suppliers and authorities of MRL excesses where they were found. It is important to stress that the positive effects of eating fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a balanced healthy diet far outweigh any concern about pesticide residues.”
Richard Clarke