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Food Safety Focus (72nd Issue, July 2012) – Food Incident Highlight

Total Diet Study on Pesticide Residues

Last month, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) released the Total Diet Study results which found dietary exposures of the local population to 85 commonly encountered pesticide residues under four pesticide groups were low and all of them below safety reference values. People who are concerned over health risk resulting from dietary exposure to pesticide residues can be reassured.

Pesticides under the four groups studied (organophosphorus pesticides, carbamates, pyrethrins and pyrethroids, and dithiocarbamate metabolites) are commonly used on agricultural crops. Food items detected with pesticide residues do not automatically mean they are unsafe for consumption. In assessing the health risks of pesticide residues, apart from their toxic nature, the amount and the duration of exposure must also be considered. The study does not show that there is any excessive exposure raising health concerns.

Proper use of pesticides in accordance with good agricultural practice would only leave small amounts of residues in crops. Consumption of these vegetables/fruits will not affect health. Consumers are advised to take a balanced diet including a variety of fruits and vegetables as they are essential components of a healthy diet.