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UK pesticide residues in food monitoring programme

9 March 2018

The UK’s Pesticide Residues in Food Expert Committee has published its report of the findings of the third quarterly report for 2017.  The quarter’s programme surveyed 981 samples of 30 different foods. Of these, 27 samples contained residues above the Maximum Residue Level, covering beans with pods, infant formula, okra, oranges, potatoes, prepared fresh fruit, raspberries, rice, speciality dried beans, speciality fruit and yoghurt.

The report commented: “In most cases the presence of the residues found would be unlikely to have had any effect on the health of the people who ate the food. In the case of oranges, we found residues in some samples where short-lived effects were possible if people ate all of the peel as well as the flesh, but not when the fruit was peeled before eating.


Beans with pods

7 samples had residues above the MRL: 1 sample from Malaysia; 3 samples from Kenya; 3 samples from India.



One sample of frozen okra from Egypt contained a residue of BAC.



One sample from South Africa contained a residue of methidathion above the MRL.  The report also includes risk assessments of other samples containing residues where the effect on health needed to be considered in more detail in relation to chlorpyrifos, imazalil, propiconazole, and thiabendazole.



A residue of pencycuron was found above the MRL.  The report comments that while pencycuron is used as a fungicide treatment on seed potatoes only, residues can occur from cross-contamination if boxes used to store ware potatoes had been used previously to store treated seed potatoes, or by close contact of daughter tubers with their parent seed tuber or, if the remainder of a parent tuber had not been removed at harvest.


Prepared fresh fruit

Five samples contained a residue of chlorate above the MRL.  The report comments that the Committee agrees with HSE and the FSA that the current MRL does not take account of often unavoidable sources, in particular chlorine-based treatments of drinking and irrigation water as well as chlorine-based surface disinfectants which are used widely to ensure microbiological safety.



One sample from the UK contained a residue of chlorpyrifos above the MRL.


Speciality fruit

One sample from Egypt and one sample from Spain contained a residue of lambda-cyhalothrin above the MRL.


Residues of non-approved pesticides were found in the following UK samples – HSE Enforcement is investigating:

  • Apples – two samples contained residues of paclobutrazol
  • Cucumber – one sample with residues of fluopyram
  • Raspberries – one sample with residue of chlorpyrifos
  • Spring greens and kale – 5 samples of kale with a residue of linuron.


For more details see the full Quarter 2 2017 report

The results, brand name details and summary tables are available at:


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