Italian industry rebuts agchem residue scare
The Italian pesticide industry has rebutted the “alarm created” in the country over rising pesticide residue levels in food following a widely reported two-year study from the Sapienza University (Rome) that found such in the Lazio region. The national crop protection industry association, Agropharma, has advertised that Italian fresh produce “is subject to strict and continuous checks”. It cites a European Food Safety Authority report that in 2009 some 97.4% of tested samples in Italy were below maximum residue limits (MRLs), while the last Ministry of Health report showed that only “0.4% of thousands of samples” of fruit and vegetables breached MRLs, and 64.2% were free of residues, “compared with a European average of 3.5%”, and a ten-fold drop since 1993 in an Italian cheese. The Lazio study found “increasing” residues of 18% in apples in 2008-9, while the incidence of residues rose from 25% to 62% of pears among other example fruit, although MRL exceedances “were low” at around 3% in each year.