‘Q mark’ fruit, veg­gies study de­tects residues

Or­ganic prod­ucts found con­tam­i­nated


Cab­bages and water­mel­ons, of­ten re­garded as con­tam­i­nant-prone, have been found safe to eat, while more than half of the fruits and veg­eta­bles awarded the gov­ern­ment’s “Q mark” for qual­ity were found to have harm­ful residue lev­els, a re­cent food safety sur­vey shows.

Sur­vey re­sults were an­nounced by the Thai-Pes­ti­cide Alert Net­work (Thai-Pan), which tested 138 sam­ples of pop­u­lar fruit and veg­eta­bles in greater Bangkok, Chi­ang Mai and Ubon Ratchathan­i from March 16-18.

Sam­ples were sent to a lab in the United King­dom for ex­am­i­na­tion us­ing a mul­tiresidue pes­ti­cide screen method to test for 450 sub­stances.

Prok­chol Ousup, a Thai-Pan co­or­di­na­tor, said the over­all re­sults showed 46.6% of sam­ples con­tained residue higher than the ac­cepted safety stan­dard level. No­tably, 57% of fruits and veg­eta­bles granted the “Q mark” by the Na­tional Bureau of Agri­cul­tural Com­mod­ity and Food Stan­dards (ACFS), were found to have un­safe lev­els of con­tam­i­nants.

She said 25% of the prod­ucts cer­ti­fied as be­ing or­ganic, which were sup­posed to be free of chem­i­cals, were found to con­tain chem­i­cal residues ex­ceed­ing ac­cepted stan­dards.

The net­work said fruits and veg­eta­bles col­lected from su­per­mar­kets where con­sumers pay higher prices did not have much higher safety stan­dards than those in wet mar­kets, with 46% of pro­duce from su­per­mar­kets con­tain­ing residues ex­ceed­ing stan­dards, com­pared with 48% from fresh mar­kets.

Ms Prok­chol said 11 pro­hib­ited sub­stances were found in the sam­ples.

Re­sults showed that 100% of red chillis had harm­ful residues ex­ceed­ing stan­dards, fol­lowed by basil and long beans (66.7%), Chi­nese kale (55.6%), Chi­nese cab­bage (33.3%), morn­ing glory (22.2%), and toma­toes and cu­cum­bers (11.1%).

How­ever, 100% of non-Chi­nese cab­bage sam­ples were free of con­tam­i­nants.

For the fruit, all the tested or­anges and guava were con­tam­i­nated with harm­ful residues ex­ceed­ing stan­dards. About 71% of dragon fruit, 66% of pa­payas and 44% nam dok­mai man­goes had residue.

Water­mel­ons were free of harm­ful residues, in line with pre­vi­ous Mahi­dol Univeristy test re­sults from 2014.

The net­work has pre­sented its test re­sults to su­per­mar­ket chains, the Thai Fresh Mar­ket As­so­ci­a­tion and gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Pisan Pongsapitc­h, deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral of the ACFS, said the bureau is aware of the prob­lem and will con­tact state agen­cies for in­for­ma­tion to launch a probe into the mat­ter.

He won­dered how the level of sub­stances found by Thai-Pan could be so much higher than those found in tests con­ducted by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture.

Last year, the depart­ment sur­veyed 3,700 sam­ples of fruit and veg­eta­bles, 1,000 of which met “Q mark” stan­dards. Re­sult showed only about seven sam­ples tested pos­i­tive for high lev­els of chem­i­cal con­tam­i­na­tion.

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