Pesticide residues found in 73% of fruits, vegetables

GOOD AND BAD::Costco was singled out as the worst performing retailer in terms of transparency, while FamilyMart and 7-Eleven passed the tests

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jan 22, 2016 - Page 3

Greenpeace Taiwan yesterday said that a pesticide residue test on vegetables sold at major retail outlets showed that 73 percent of the samples tested contained pesticide residue and 20 percent exhibited excessive pesticide levels.

The organization collected 60 vegetable and fruit products from brick-and-mortar and digital outlets of major supermarket and convenience store chains, including RT-Mart, Pxmart, Carrefour, Wellcome, A. Mart, Costco, 7-Eleven and FamilyMart, and 44 products tested positive for pesticide residues, 12 of which contained excessive residues and five contained forbidden pesticides.

Prohibited chemicals were found in oranges from A. Mart; oilseed rape, lettuce and jujubes from Carrefour; as well as passion fruit from A. Mart, the group said.

Green beans from Costco contained a fungicide residue 69 times higher than the legal limit, which stood out as the most serious violation among products with excessive residue levels, including oranges, green peppers, lettuce and passion fruits from A. Mart, spoon cabbages and arden lettuce from Carrefour, lemons from Pxmart, as well as grapes, lemons and Chinese cabbages from RT-Mart.

Only products collected from 7-Eleven and FamilyMart outlets showed no excessive residue, the organization said.

The test was a follow-up of a similar test conducted in October last year, which analyzed 69 products from eight retailers and found excessive residues in six products and prohibited pesticide in one product, it said.

“Consumers shopping for hot pot ingredients ahead of the Lunar New Year should avoid leaf vegetables, beans and peppers, which are prone to contain higher amount of pesticides,” Greenpeace project manager Lo Ko-jung (羅可容) said.

Singling out Costco as the worst performing retailer in terms of transparency and food safety policy, Lo said: “The solution to pesticide residue in food relies on retailers proposing specific measures to ban pesticide-containing products, but Costco ignores the consumer’s right to know because it has refused to disclose its pesticide management policy.”

Lo described Costco’s repeated claim that it followed both Taiwan’s and the US’ laws as an empty slogan, as the two countries differ largely in pesticide regulations, which would confuse the consumer and provide an excuse for the hypermarket chain to comply with standards it finds convenient.

Meanwhile, Carrefour has expanded its range of banned pesticides, from 40 percent to 70 percent of pesticides officially designated as highly toxic by the Council of Agriculture, she said.

Vegetables sold at 7-Eleven pose the least risk of pesticide exposure, as the retailer claims to sell only organic vegetables or crops produced during the transition period to organic production, she added.