Wash your fruits, vegetables: FDA

WASH, RINSE, REPEAT::With 53 products testing positive for contamination, the agency specified a deep-cleaning regimen for leafy vegetables and fruits

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jun 27, 2014 - Page 3

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday urged the public to remain diligent about thoroughly washing vegetables and fruits before eating them, after recent random sampling detected pesticide and fungicide residues in 53 out of 453 food products.

The majority of the contaminated products were beans and small, leafy vegetables, including dwarf beans, honey peas, snow peas, spinach, mint leaves and edible amaranth, the results showed.

The results showed that the most frequent contaminants were insecticide, fipronil (found in eight items) and difenoconazole (found in five), a fungicide.

Three other contaminants — dimethomorph, cypermethrin and profenophos — were found in four agricultural products each.

Fipronil is classified by the WHO as a Class II moderately hazardous pesticide with an acceptable daily intake (ADI) of 0.0002 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) of body weight, which means an adult weighing 50kg is advised to ingest no more than 0.01mg of the substance a day.

However, it was banned by the EU in July last year.

The highest level of fipronil — 0.07 parts per million — was found in an edible rape product that is currently used by Keelung’s Wu Lun Elementary School.

Doctors have said that long-term exposure to fipronil could cause damage to a person’s liver and kidneys and increase the risk of thyroid tumors.

“We have told local health departments to trace the origins of the deficient products and to handle the cases in accordance with the laws... In the meantime, consumers are advised to wash leafy vegetables with running water before soaking them in water for 10 to 20 minutes and then washing them at least two more times,” the FDA said.