The latest report on pesticide residues in food in the European Union is now available, giving a snapshot of residue levels found in a basket of products widely consumed in the territory. A total of 96,302 samples were analysed in 2019, 96.1% of which fell within legally permitted levels. For the subset of 12,579 samples analysed as part of the EU-coordinated control programme (EUCP), 98% were within legal limits.
The EUCP analysed samples randomly collected from 12 food products – apples, head cabbages, lettuce, peaches, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, oat grain, barley grain, wine (red and white), cow’s milk and swine fat. Of those samples analysed:
6,674 or 53% were found to be free of quantifiable levels of residues.
5,664 or 45% contained one or more residues in concentrations below or equal to permitted levels.
241 or 2% contained residues exceeding the legal maximum of which 1% led to legal actions.
The coordinated programme covers similar baskets of products on a three-year rotation, which means upward or downward trends can be identified for specific goods. So, compared to 2016, the exceedance rate fell for peaches (from 1.9% to 1.5%), lettuce (2.4% to 1.8%), apples (2.7% to 2.1%) and tomatoes (2.6% to 1.7%).
Exceedances rose for strawberries (1.8% to 3.3%), head cabbages (1.1% to 1.9%), and wine grapes (0.4% to 0.9%). The results of the coordinated programme are available on EFSA’s website as browsable charts and graphs, making the data more accessible to non-specialists.