Food consumed in the European Union (EU) continues to be largely free of pesticide residues or to contain residues that fall within legal limits, according to the latest monitoring report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The data reveal that more than 97% of food samples collected across the EU in 2015 were within legal limits, with just over 53% free of quantifiable residues. The figures are in line with those recorded in 2014.
In 2015, the reporting countries analyzed 84,341 samples for 774 pesticides. The majority of the samples (69.3%) originated from EU Member States, Iceland, and Norway; 25.8% concerned products imported from third countries. Legal limits were exceeded in 5.6% of the samples from non-EU countries, down from 6.5% in 2014. For products from the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) countries, legal limits were exceeded in 1.7% of samples, a slight year-on-year increase (from 1.6%).
Of the samples of foods intended for infants and young children, 96.5% were free of residues or residues fell within legal limits. For organic foods, 99.3% were residue-free or within legal limits.
As part of its annual report, EFSA analyses the results of the EU-coordinated control program (EUCP), under which reporting countries analyze samples from the same “basket” of food items. For 2015, the products were eggplants, bananas, broccoli, virgin olive oil, orange juice, peas, sweet peppers, table grapes, wheat, butter, and eggs. The highest exceedance rate recorded was for broccoli (3.4% of samples), followed by table grapes (1.7%). Rare exceedances were found for olive oil, orange juice, and chicken eggs. No exceedances were recorded for butter.
The EFSA also performed a dietary risk assessment based on the EUCP. For both short-term (acute) and long-term (chronic) exposure, EFSA concluded that the risk to consumers was low.