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Netherlands: Residues on vegetables continued to decrease

The number of fruit and vegetable products with more pesticides than legally allowed has continued to decrease. In the period between 2003 and 2010, a decrease was seen, and this decrease continued between 2013 and 2017, according to an interim evaluation of the Dutch pesticide policy. For this evaluation, the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) looks at to what degree they succeeded in keeping food safety at the current level.

The Dutch government wants the number of fruit and vegetable products on the Dutch market that have too many residues of pesticides to remain low. Studies of the RIVM show that this has already occurred between 2013 and 2017. More than 95 per cent of the products contain concentrations that are lower than legally allowed.

Residues mostly on products from outside of Europe
Products from countries outside of Europe, such as goji berries, exceed the standard less and less often, although this development isn’t stable yet. It continues to be necessary to pay attention to lower concentrations in these products. The NVWA (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) therefore focuses its national control plan on these products more often. This plan describes the official monitoring of natural products for the presence of residues of pesticides. For products from the Netherlands, the low number remained the same as in 2010.

Supermarkets are stricter
The low percentage of products with too many residues of pesticides shows that farmers are careful with these products. Moreover, products that come from outside of the European Union are inspected more rigorously. Since the start of this century, supermarkets have also had stricter requirements regarding the presence of residues of pesticides on fruit and vegetables than is standard. The degree of influence this measure had, wasn’t considered in this study.

General public is informed more actively
Additionally, reporting towards the general public regarding residues of pesticides has been adjusted since 2010. Since then, the Dutch Food Centre and the NVWA have actively spread information about residues of pesticides, and they are the contact for questions. However, people continue to worry about the presence of pesticides on food. Further research is necessary to determine what causes this worry and how this worry could be reduced.

For more information, please refer to the interim evaluation of the report Gezonde Groei, Duurzame Oogst - Deelproject Voedselveiligheid (Healthy Growth, Sustainable Harvest - Partial Project Food Safety) on the website of the RIVM (link to Dutch report).

Source: RIVM

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