new European Food Safety Agency Macro Research (EFSA) on the presence of pesticides in foodstuffs of animal origin as well as fruit, vegetables and vegetables marketed in the European Union, Iceland and Norway. The results are based on official controls carried out during 2021 by each Member State.
To do this, random checks were carried out throughout the year on samples of the following twelve products: eggplant, bananas, broccoli, cultivated mushrooms, grapefruit, melons, sweet peppers, table grapes, virgin olive oil, wheat, fattened cattle and chicken. eggs.
The findings reveal that only 3.9% of the products analyzed showed pesticide levels exceeding the maximum limit or legal limit.
5.5% of the analyzed products had no traces of pesticides, and 90.6% showed their presence, but below the maximum permissible limit.
The most detected pesticide was ethylene oxide, exceeding the limit in 6.6% of samples, as well as dithiocarbamates and copper compounds used as fungicides.
Analyzed products with the highest frequency of pesticides
The products with the highest detection of pesticides were grapefruit (9.1% of them had it), followed by sweet peppers, bananas, mushrooms, table grapes, eggplant, broccoli, wheat, melons, virgin olive oil, beef fat, and finally eggs. which in no case contained pesticides.
EFSA concludes that the rate of non-compliance is increasing in eggplants, bananas, sweet peppers and mushrooms grown with pesticides, according to data recorded in controls, in 2018 and 2015, compared to the previous years when controls were carried out.
In the case of grapefruit, there was a spectacular increase of 8.18 percentage points compared to 2018 and 9.1 percentage points compared to 2015, when they were not detected. EFSA attributes this increase to a lack of control over products imported from outside the EU.
Conversely, broccoli, chicken eggs, cantaloupe, table grapes and olive oil improved their levels in the historical series in 2015, 2018 and 2021. These data represent general indicators of improvement and therefore EFSA declares the risk of exposure to pesticides in the EU to be low.
Stricter legislation, wider fear
This low-risk situation has not always been the same and is largely conditioned To tighten the requirements for food exports to the European Unionwhich was established by the European Parliament.
But either due to media pressure against the use of herbicides, greater knowledge of agricultural techniques on the part of consumers, or distrust in the origin of products generated by globalization, Pesticides have become one of our obsessions.
We have the right to demand that agricultural produce reaches us in the best possible conditions, be it in terms of bacteria, viruses or pesticides, but the reality is that even if they are washed industrially or prophylactically, most garden produce. Or the fruit cannot guarantee 100% hygiene, so it is always mandatory to use a series of procedures, which further ensures the cleanliness of the food.
The aim is to eliminate possible contamination by pesticides, but also by bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Listeria or Shigella – the most common and serious cause of gastrointestinal poisoning, as well as possible contamination with novovirus in salad vegetables.
Developed by Oregon State University and the United States Environmental Protection Agency cleaning protocol which is summarized in the following sections.
Selection, the first step
To be careful, we must choose fresh products on the supermarket shelf, greengrocers or greengrocers that do not have holes or cuts on the surface, because they represent a break in the barrier that is the skin of the vegetable. fruits or vegetables.
The reason is that the pesticides may have penetrated through the wound; We should not confuse these precautions with throwing away ugly food that is perfectly nutritious.
We will be especially careful with tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, turnips, etc. in selection because they are most susceptible to chemical contamination due to the treatment applied to them. Even so, we should not reject them, because herbicide residues are perfectly eliminated.
The next thing we do when we get home is take them out of the bags and remove the vegetables first. Then we will wash our hands and then we will take out and keep the meat and fish where we want. The purpose of this maneuver is to avoid cross-contamination of both microbes and pesticides from vegetables to other foods.
Wash before use
Vegetables, whether stored in the refrigerator or outside, should be washed only before consumption. The reason for this procedure is that if we wash them as soon as we get home from shopping, it is very possible to remove the pesticides but leave the cloth wet.
By doing this, we allow the growth of various microbes that benefit from the water that we leave between the leaves or on the surface of the fruit or vegetable. On the other hand, if we wash just before consumption, we don’t give bacteria time to grow.
It should be remembered that the pesticide is not inside the vegetable, so surface washing will be sufficient. However, each piece and product, depending on its characteristics, requires its own specific washing.
For example, in the case of lettuce, cabbage and vegetables with a similar structure, the outer leaves should be removed and discarded, as they can be very contaminated.
We will remove the rest of the product and wash it with running water so that there are no traces of soil or chemical products; The stem can be eaten, but washed.
In the case of spinach, sardine, corn and the like, we cut the stems and put the leaves in a wide strainer, where we run running water and rub them to remove possible elements. It is advisable not to leave them in water for a while, because they can cause the loss of water-soluble elements – C, B vitamins, folates, etc. – Transfer to an environment where they will be lost for consumption.
The importance of a good brush
As for lesions such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc., they should be washed under running water, but without violent rubbing, as possible wounds in their pulp can be a source of contamination. For hard-skinned vegetables and fruits that we want to peel, it’s also best to wash the piece and then wash our hands before peeling.
In this way, we avoid the transfer of contamination to the hands and then to the pulp. This tip works for pears, peaches, plums or apples, but it can also be useful for garlic or onions; Although, due to their status as bulbs, they are less exposed to pesticide contamination.
Finally, for hard-skinned vegetables and fruits that we want to eat raw or cooked, but not the skin, we can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any pesticide or bacterial residue attached to their skin.
Such is the case with carrots, radishes—because they are roots, they are usually not a source of much pesticide contamination—or in the case of celery. Also potatoes, which we want to cook with their skins, or especially beans, which we intend to cook with their pods. If we plan to eat a melon or watermelon and hold it with our hands, it is also important to brush its surface, in this case with a strong bristle.
Source: El Diario