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ECPA project sharing best practices on residue reduction

ECPA is transferring the knowledge gained in Almeria to the Antalya region of Turkey so it can benefit from the Spanish success in improving residue management.

Almeria’s move from a fairly high rate of exceedance of maximum residue levels (MRLs) to now being among the best in class in Mediterranean greenhouse production is a success story the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) is using to help farmers in other areas. Under its residue management project, ECPA is transferring the knowledge gained in Almeria to the Antalya region of Turkey so it can benefit from the Spanish success in improving residue management. The project focuses on tomatoes and peppers as they are among the most widely consumed vegetables and, because of tough climatic conditions, they are also difficult to manage in terms of controlling diseases and pests.

Responding to consumer concerns about residues

The 2013 annual residue report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) showed the vast majority of food contains no measurable residues, or residues below MRLs. However, the recent Eurobarometer shows that the issue of pesticide residues in food is one that consumers are particularly concerned about. “We want to try to address this through our residue management project,” said ECPA director general Jean-Charles Bocquet, “and for consumers to feel confident about the food they eat.” The project aims to support the reduction of residues by promoting use of integrated pest management (IPM) principles and good agricultural practices.

Public affairs director Graeme Taylor told ED that ECPA takes consumer concerns seriously – hence its commitment to address them through dedicated activities. “We want to contribute to fostering consumer trust by addressing and explaining the issues of pesticide residues and residues management. We want to explain that European food is safe and show consumers what it takes to grow a healthy plant, explain why farmers need crop protection products or why sometimes pesticide residues occur. And most importantly, present what our industry and farmers are doing to minimise, if not eliminate, any risk for the consumer,” he said.

ECPA public affairs director Graeme Taylor

Transfer of best practice: train-the-trainers concept the key

The project harnesses the train the trainer concept and started with the training of 7 master trainers in Spain, who have gone on to train trainers for Turkey. Since its start in 2013, there have been 135 attendees in training held in Antalya, with further 60 participants at two sessions held in November 2015. Feedback showed the training was found useful, particularly the topics of IPM, biologicals and sulfur sublimation.

Future activities

Taylor said ECPA is now looking to share the experience and knowledge gained in Spain and Turkey with other EU countries.

Among other goals are:

  • Cooperation and use of synergies with other ECPA projects and initiatives
  • Given imports from third countries are more likely to show MRL exceedances – cooperation with other institutions and projects in countries outside EU (e.g. CropLife International)
  • Extension of tailor-made training from advisors to farmers

Food safety is not an area of competition but an area of cooperation and we want to share lessons learned with other partners,” Taylor said.

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Tighter fruit and veg import checks paying off, says EU

Last year there was a small rise – from 4.1% to 4.4% – in the percentage of consignments of the fruit and vegetable on the list that were refused entry to the EU.

Table grapes from Peru and aubergines and Chinese celery from Cambodia are to be under tighter scrutiny for pesticide residues by the European Union.

They are among food products recently added to a European Commission list of imports targeted for food safety controls over and above the routine ones.

Among other foods joining the watchlist are:

  • Vine leaves from Turkey (pesticide residues)
  • Dragon fruit from Vietnam (pesticide residues)
  • Betel leaves from India and Thailand (salmonella)
  • Dried apricots from Turkey (sulphites)

Some products have now been taken off the list having achieved satisfactory levels of compliance, among them:

  • Pomelos from China (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Oranges from Egypt (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Frozen strawberries from China (tested for norovirus and hepatitis A virus)
  • Coriander and basil from Thailand (tested for pesticide residues)
  • Coriander, basil and mint from Thailand (tested for the presence of salmonella)

Last year there was a small rise – from 4.1% to 4.4% – in the percentage of consignments of the fruit and vegetable on the list that were refused entry to the EU.


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In a report on the results of its reinforced border checks in 2014, the Commission said nearly 100,000 consignments subject to these controls reached EU borders in 2014. “Of those, 11,291 were sampled for laboratory analysis and 496 (i.e. 4.4%, slightly above the 2013 result of 4.1%) were found in breach of EU legislation and were prevented from entering the EU market,” it said.

In a press release, the Commission said the report shows “that the system of controls at EU borders on fruit and vegetable imports from non-EU countries is protecting consumers from potential food safety risks.”

The report is published in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 on an increased level of official controls on certain imports of food and feed of non-animal origin, which contains the list (reviewed on a quarterly basis) of imports subject to increased border controls.

The following tables are excerpts from the report, which can be read in full here.
The list of “Feed and food of non-animal origin subject to an increased level of official controls at the designated point of entry” can be seen here.




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Salmonella, pesticide residues, lead and tin caused EU food concerns last week


Lead, tin, salmonella and unacceptable pesticide residues were among the hazards in fruit and vegetables listed by the EU’s  RASFF – Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed – portal last week.
Frozen raspberries from Ukraine with a high content of lead – 0.38 mg/kg –  were reported by Poland as rejected at border before being placed on the market.
Similarly, the UK refused paan leaves from India for the presence of Salmonella spp.
And red grapes from Peru and oranges and lemons from Turkey – all linked to unacceptable pesticide residues – were among other foods rejected at border within the EU.

Tin in loquats, pesticide residues in minneolas

Tin in loquats from China and Germany provoked an alert after a report from Switzerland and residues of the pesticide carbofuran were behind information notifications issued for foods including spring onions from Thailand and fresh chili and cabbage from Vietnam.

A notification was also issued for minneolas from the US after The Netherlands reported the presence of an unauthorised substance, the pesticide carbaryl at 2.4 mg/kg.

RASFF notification types

According to the RASFF, border rejections concern food and feed consignments that have been tested and rejected at the external borders of the EU (and the European Economic Area – EEA) when a health risk has been found. The notifications are sent to all EEA border posts in order to reinforce controls and ensure that the rejected product does not re-enter the EU through another border post.

Alert notifications are sent when a food or feed presenting a serious health risk is on the market and when rapid action is required. The RASFF member that identifies the problem and takes the relevant actions (e.g. withdrawal of the product) triggers the alert. The goal of the notification is to give all RASFF members the information to confirm whether the product in question is on their market, so that they can also take the necessary measures.

While information notifications are used when a risk has been identified about food or feed placed on the market, but the other members do not have to take rapid action. This is because the product has not reached their market or is no longer present on their market or because the nature of the risk does not require rapid action.

RASFF notifications

Image: Warning sign by penubag via Wikimedia Commons





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Pesticide residues, salmonella behind recent food safety alerts in Europe



Salmonella found in rocket, radish sprouts, paan leaves

Two reports of the presence of salmonella in rucola (rocket) from Italy are among 60 fruit and vegetable notifications posted on the  RASFF – Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed – in the month to December 23.

According to the site, Norway was the source of information that a sample of Italian rucola taken on on December 8 tested positive for Salmonella Napoli. It said the product was withdrawn from the market.

And Norway reported a sample of Italian rucola taken on December 1 tested positive for Salmonella Kottbus and was returned to the consignor.


Rucola (image by Leo Michels via Wikimedia Commons)


In a case reported by the UK, Salmonella spp. was found in December 1 samples from paan leaves from India and the import rejected at the border.

Another pathogen, bacillus cereus, was detected in radish sprouts from the Netherlands, according to a notification from Germany.


Border rejections

There were 38 reports in the month to date in the RASFF category of ‘border rejection’, with the majority involving dried fruit, mostly dried figs and apricots from Turkey.

Among fresh foods rejected at border were:

  • Strawberries from Egypt, pesticide residue (methomyl 0.18 mg/kg, reported by Italy)

  • Strawberries from Egypt, pesticide residue (thiophanate-methyl 0.54 mg/kg, reported by Italy)

  • Artichokes from Tunisia, pesticide residue (dimethoate 0.79 mg/kg, reported by Italy)

  • Broccoli from China, pesticide residue (carbendazim 2.1 mg/kg and promecarb 48 mg/kg, reported by the Netherlands)


More than a third of notifications due to pesticide residues

Altogether, pesticide residues accounted for 24 of the 60 RASFF notifications, including:

  • Apples from Poland: dimethoate 0.084 mg/kg, information from Poland

  • Grapes from Spain: ethephon 1.4 mg/kg, information from the UK

  • Grapes from Peru: ethephon 2.4 mg/kg, information from the Netherlands

  • Grapes from Brazil: ethephon 0.9 mg/kg, information from the Netherlands

  • Grapes from Greece: captan (6.525 mg/kg, information from Bulgaria

  • Broccoli from Spain: fluazifop-P-butyl 0.49 mg/kg, information from the Netherlands

  • Cherry tomatoes from Italy: fenamiphos 0.13 mg/kg, information from Switzerland

  • Tomatoes from Poland; flonicamid 0.73 mg/kg, information from Czech Republic

  • Lemons from Albania: fenitrothion 0.053 mg/kg, information from Bulgaria

  • Lettuce from Poland: iprodione 33.6 mg/kg, information from Czech Republic

  • Dragon fruit from Vietnam: iprodione 0.093 mg/kg, information from Belgium

  • Dragon fruit from Thailand: carbendazim 1.5 mg/kg, information from Italy


Among other notifications was one from Slovakia that spinach from Italy was found to have too high a content of nitrate (4439.2 mg/kg – ppm).


RASFF portal