Pesticide residue control efforts focused in 2008 particularly on products imported from Thailand


<p>Similar levels of pesticide residues were found in foodstuffs of plant origin in 2008 as in previous years. The majority (94%) of the analysed products conformed to regulations. Products imported from Thailand, in particular, showed residue levels in excess of the permitted maximum amounts.</p>

Minor residues are common
A total of ca. 2000 food products of plant origin were analysed in 2008 for residues of 256 different pesticides. Most of the samples were fresh fruit and vegetables and the rest were cereals and processed products. More than half of the products (59%) contained residues of one or several pesticides. However, the levels were in most cases low and 94% of the products conformed to regulations. Pesticide residues were found in 37% of the domestic products analysed, with the maximum permitted level exceeded in only two samples (raspberry and dill).

Non-conformities particularly in Thai products
The proportion (6%) of non-conforming products found in residue control increased by one percent over 2007. The focusing of control efforts on Thai products can be considered to be one factor contributing to this increase. Products of Thai origin accounted for 28% of the non-conforming products. Residues were especially found in fresh spice herbs, such as coriander and basil, in fresh spice peppers, beans, eggplant and onion. The other non-conforming products came evenly from several countries with China (6%), Egypt and Israel (5%) ranking second highest as countries of origin of non-conforming products. Thai products accounted for 50% in the group of products subjected to follow-up sampling due to previous non-conformities.

Regulatory action
The distribution of non-conforming products, i.e. products with residue levels in excess of the permitted maximum amount, was discontinued and withdrawal of the product was initiated if the product was suspected to be detrimental to the consumers' health. Seven notifications of excessive residue levels were sent in 2008 to EU's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. RASFF notifications are only made if a risk assessment indicates that the product could be detrimental to the health of some consumer group.

Pesticide residues are controlled every year
The control of pesticide residues is an annual project in Finland, carried out in collaboration between Evira, the Customs, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) and municipal food control authorities. Control has traditionally focused on the vegetables, fruit and cereal products, which are abundant in the diet. Products are also selected for control on the basis of known residue problems by e.g. monitoring notifications sent to the RASFF system.

More on the topic:
Evira's publication 14/2009: Pesticide Residue Monitoring in Finland - 2008; Fruit, Vegetables and Cereals

For more information, please contact:
Ulla Karlström, Senior Officer, Evira, tel. +358 (0) 20 7724288, +358 (0) 40 4877798, ulla.karlstrom
Kalevi Siivinen, Research Manager, Customs Laboratory, tel. +358 (0) 20 49 23267, +358 (0) 40 33 23267, kalevi.siivinen at-merkki.gif


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