Pesticide residues were more common in samples of imported fruit and vegetables than those of Danish origin, according to a study.
Fruits and vegetables had higher frequencies of residues than the other groups of commodities but fruits were found to have more compared to vegetables, found the country’s National Food Institute.
Residues above the MRLs were found in 2.6% of the samples, most frequently in fruit.
Danish fruit with a content of pesticides under the EU maximum residue limits (MRL) for content in foods is between 38-67%.
The share of foreign fruit with a content of pesticides is between 61-82% in the study period.
Residues in food type
Results were based on the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration's studies of pesticide residues in Danish food in the period 2004-2011 .
No pesticide residues were found in the meat samples or other samples of animal origin and for baby food, 66 samples were analysed and reported negative for residues.
However, for strawberries, plums, carrots, cucumbers, spinach, wheat flour and wheat the frequencies in Danish samples were higher compared to some of the other countries.
"The risk assessment showed that Danes have no risk of adverse health effects following exposure to pesticides in fruit and vegetables even following consumption of the recommended 600 grams of fruit and vegetables per day,” said senior adviser Bodil Hamborg Jensen of the National Food Institute.
“If only commodities of Danish origin are consumed whenever possible Danes can reduce their intake of pesticide residues by 50%."
The analytical programme included almost 250 pesticides covering 275 substances.
The samples with the highest number of pesticides were chili peppers from Thailand, where 10 different ones were detected.
Another chili sample from Thailand contained nine different pesticides, with two table grape samples, from Italy and Chile having the same number.
Products tested included fruit, vegetables, cereals, meat, baby food and other processed food out of 17,309 samples – 5,684 were Danish and 11,625 were foreign.
Foreign countries included Australia, Cyprus, Italy, Pakistan, Peru, USA, Chile, Israel, Turkey, Morocco, South Africa and Uruguay.
"In tests involving oranges, tangerines and bananas we found pesticide residues in virtually all samples, but the analyses are carried out on products with peel. This type of fruit is peeled before you eat them whereby the majority of pesticide residues are sorted out,” Hamborg Jensen added.
The exposure estimated using the different models varied between 44 and 144 micrograms (μg) per person per day for children and between 68 and 222 μg/person/day for adults.
Average daily intake of pesticide residues is 98 micrograms for children and 146 micrograms for adults.
The risk assessment for a single pesticide is performed by estimation of the Hazard Quotient (HQ), which is calculated by dividing the exposure with the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) for the pesticide.