Tougher legislation is in the pipeline regarding the use of pesticides in foods, in the wake of an EU report for 2017 that found Cyprus had the highest percentage of samples exceeding maximum residue levels.
According to the 2017 European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) report on pesticide residues in food, among the reporting countries the highest Maximum Residue Level exceedance rates were reported for products from Cyprus, Greece and France.
The 2017 data, published in June this year, are the latest available from the Efsa. In that year, 353 samples were tested in Cyprus, of which 5.7 per cent exceeded the MRL. Cyprus’ was the highest exceedance rate, followed by Greece (4.4 per cent) and France (4.1 per cent).
By comparison, the mean exceedance rate of all reporting countries was 2.6 per cent.
That said, Cyprus’ sampling rate itself was the second highest. Cyprus took 83.8 samples per 100,000 inhabitants, the second highest rate after Bulgaria (95.8). The EU’s mean sampling rate was 17.1 samples per 100,000 inhabitants.
Now, the government is preparing new legislation to tighten the screws on producers who exceed acceptable levels of pesticides.
Alvertos Karis, director of the Public Health Service, told daily Politis that the bill will raise fines slapped on producers to €2000 from €850 currently per category of excessive pesticide residue detected.
Karis said also that part of the problem is that food producers often purchase their pesticides from the north.
The latest data for the first half of 2019 show that, of the 181 samples (fruits and vegetables) analysed, six were found to contain pesticide residues above the permissible level.
None of the batches concerned reached consumers.
In 2018, a total of 350 samples were taken. At the crossing points, 119 products (or 27.7 per cent of all samples) coming in from the north were tested, with no problems detected.