‘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.