Pes­ti­cide Residues

How to Min­i­mize Them

Consumer Voice - - Contents -

On the one hand, pes­ti­cides play an im­por­tant role in mak­ing sure there is enough food for ev­ery­one, by pro­tect­ing food and crops from pests (in­sects, weeds and fun­gal dis­eases). On the other hand, the con­cern about pes­ti­cide residues on the food we eat is real and with some ba­sis in facts. What can we do at our homes to make our food safe?

Ex­ces­sive pes­ti­cide residues in food may arise from the trade not ob­serv­ing good agri­cul­tural prac­tice – for ex­am­ple, the use of ex­ces­sive pes­ti­cide and not al­low­ing suf­fi­cient time for pes­ti­cide to de­com­pose be­fore har­vest­ing. Pes­ti­cides ‘break down’ over time, which means very lit­tle residue should be left by the time we eat the food if due pro­ce­dure is ob­served.

Why would pes­ti­cide residues ap­pear in food?

Pes­ti­cide residues may be present in food be­cause of the fol­low­ing rea­sons: di­rect use of pes­ti­cides on food crops; an­i­mal feed­ing on pes­ti­cide-treated feed; or en­vi­ron­men­tal con­tam­i­na­tion

Will my health be af­fected if I con­sume food con­tain­ing ex­ces­sive pes­ti­cide residues?

The ad­verse ef­fects of pes­ti­cide residues de­pend on the na­ture of the pes­ti­cide, as well as the amount and du­ra­tion of ex­po­sure. Eat­ing food with ex­ces­sive pes­ti­cide residues may cause acute and/or chronic ad­verse health ef­fects. Symp­toms of acute poi­son­ing in­clude vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhoea, ab­dom­i­nal pain, dizzi­ness and numb­ness. In se­vere cases, peo­ple may even have

difficulties in breath­ing, blurred vi­sion and con­vul­sion. Pro­longed ex­ces­sive in­takes of pes­ti­cide residues have been shown to cause dam­age to the ner­vous sys­tem and other or­gans such as liver and kid­neys. Young chil­dren may be at great­est risk be­cause their brains and ner­vous sys­tems are de­vel­op­ing and don’t have the de­fences that adults do.

How to min­i­mize pes­ti­cide residues in food?

Gen­eral Meth­ods Trim the fat from meat and poul­try be­cause residues of some pes­ti­cides con­cen­trate on fat. Re­move the skin from fish. Dis­card the outer layer of leafy veg­eta­bles like cab­bage, let­tuce, etc., be­fore wash­ing. Peel fruits and veg­eta­bles where pos­si­ble. Scrub melons, car­rots, potato, turnips, etc., with a soft brush or a cloth towel for 5 to 10 seconds and rinse with slightly warm wa­ter. Wash in clean run­ning, prefer­ably drink­ing, wa­ter. Veg­eta­bles and some fruits that are con­sumed along with peel should be soaked in wa­ter for ½ hour to 1 hour and rinsed thor­oughly be­fore use. Thor­ough wash­ing can re­duce (not elim­i­nate) pes­ti­cide residues. Cook or bake foods to re­duce residues of some

pes­ti­cides even fur­ther. Eat a va­ri­ety of foods to avoid ex­ces­sive

con­sump­tion of same type of pes­ti­cide. Spe­cial­ized Meth­ods To re­duce pes­ti­cide residues in food, ready-touse branded solutions are avail­able in the mar­ket which may be used. Soak fruits and veg­eta­bles for 5 to 10 min­utes in

di­luted vine­gar, fol­lowed by thor­ough rins­ing. Wash veg­eta­bles like cau­li­flower, spinach, broccoli and cab­bage with hot wa­ter con­tain­ing two per cent com­mon salt. Wash veg­eta­bles like car­rot and brin­jal with one

per cent tamarind so­lu­tion. Dip­ping in ozonated wa­ter helps in re­duc­tion of

pes­ti­cide residues. For par­tic­u­larly waxy fruits and veg­eta­bles, spray a mix­ture of 1 cup wa­ter, ½ cup vine­gar, 1 ta­ble­spoon bak­ing soda and a dash of grape­fruit seed ex­tract, and leave for an hour be­fore rins­ing. Pre­pare any one of the fol­low­ing solutions and spray on fruit and veg­eta­bles, leave for 5 to 10 min­utes, and then wash well with fresh wa­ter. i) 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice, 2 ta­ble­spoon bak­ing

soda, 1 cup of wa­ter ii) 1 ta­ble­spoon lemon juice, 2 ta­ble­spoon white

vine­gar, 1 cup of wa­ter iii) ¼ cup vine­gar, 2 ta­ble­spoon salt

Al­ter­nately, soak fruits and veg­eta­bles for 30 min­utes in a large bowl of wa­ter and use any one of the above solutions. Then wash in fresh wa­ter.

De­spite the po­ten­tial health risks of pes­ti­cide residues, the health ad­van­tages of eat­ing plenty of fruits and veg­eta­bles are likely to be far greater. So load up on fruits and veg­eta­bles to pro­tect your health. At the same time, min­i­mize your ex­po­sure to un­wanted pes­ti­cides by tak­ing some sim­ple steps.

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