The agency said that on the whole levels of pesticide residues in foodstuffs of plant origin generally equalled thelevels found in previous years, giving rise to little in the way of improvement. The results also revealed that it was imported vegetables, nuts, fruits, berries and teas that were the worst offenders and that of the studied products, 4 per cent did not meet the agency's regulations.
Currently the agency's residue monitoring covers allproducts of dietary relevance. In addition, monitoring measures are targetedon products with known residue problems. In 2002, baby foods and organicfoods were used as special control groups.
In the residue monitoring programme, a total of 2,317 samples were analysed.Most of the samples were fruit and vegetables (1,842) and the rest grain(143) and processed foodstuffs (332). Some 60 per cent of the samples were productsimported from non-EU member countries, or so-called third countries. However 430were domestic products and 497 products from other EU member countries.
As in previous years 52 per cent of fruit and vegetables contained pesticide residues. In grain, residueswere found in one third of the samples and in processed foodstuffs, in onefifth. Residues were detected in 30 per cent of domestic samples, in 62 per cent of productsfrom other EU member countries and in 45 per cent of products from third countries.Of all the samples that tested positive, 91 (3.9 per cent) failed to meet regulations, meaning that their residue contentexceeded the permitted maximum content set by EU regulators. Of those 52 of these were products from thirdcountries and 39 products from other EU member countries. None of thedomestic samples contained residues in excess of permitted levels.
Residues of 89 different pesticides were found in fruit and vegetables and of those themaximum content was exceeded with respect to 26 pesticides. In grain,residues of only five pesticides were detected.
In samples taken from organicproducts (141 samples), residues were found in just three products. The totalnumber of baby foods analysed was 66, and in one of the samples the residuecontent exceeded the maximum permitted content of 0.01 mg/kg.
In 2002, a total of four RASFF notices were sent to theEuropean Commission (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed).
When random sampling reveals a product in which the maximum content isexceeded, the manufacturer of such goods is prohibited from selling any remainingproducts of the same batch and then extended monitoring measures areapplied to the products in question. If products under extended monitoringare found not meeting the regulations they are then ordered to be destroyed.
The national monitoring results, which are some of the most advanced and thorough in Europe were published in the National Food Agency's publication 6/2003 (Pesticide Residue Monitoring in Finland - 2002). The information is also available on the Agency's website.