Govt test shows 12.5% food items contain unapproved pesticides

New Delhi, Oct 2: In a major health hazard, the government has found residues of pesticides in a significant number of vegetables, fruits, milk and other food items collected from various retail and wholesale outlets across the country. Samples collected from organic outlets were also found having residues of pesticides.

Residues of unapproved pesticides were found in 12.50 per cent of the 20,618 samples collected nationally as part of the central scheme ‘Monitoring of Pesticide Residues’, which was launched in 2005. The samples collected during 2014-15 have been analysed by 25 labs. In lab findings, non-approved pesticides like acephate, bifenthrin, acetamiprid, triazofos, metalaxyl, malathion, acetamiprid, carbosulfan, profenofos and hexaconazole, among others, have been detected.

According to the report released by the Agriculture Ministry, the residues of pesticides were detected in 18.7 per cent of the samples, while residues above MRL (maximum residue limit) were found in 543 samples (2.6 per cent). The MRL is being prescribed by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).

“Out of the 20,618 samples analysed, residues of non-approved pesticides were detected in 12.5 per cent of the samples,” the ministry said in the report.

Residues of non-approved pesticides were detected in 1,180 vegetable samples collected from both retail and farm gate markets, 225 fruit samples, 732 spice samples, 30 rice samples and 43 pulses samples, it added. In vegetables, the ministry detected the residues of non- approved pesticides such as acephate, bifenthrin, triazofos, acetamiprid, metalaxyl and malathion.

In fruits, non-approved pesticides such as acephate, acetamiprid, carbosulfan, cypermethrin, profenofos, quinalphos and metalaxyl were found. Non-approved pesticides especially profenophos, metalaxyl and hexaconazole were found in rice, while residues of triazofos, metalaxyl, carbaryl and acephate were detected in pulses.

The ministry collected vegetables, fruits, spices, red chilli powder, curry leaves, rice, wheat, pulses, fish/marine, meat and egg, tea, milk and surface water from retail outlets, Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) markets and organic outlets.