Foodwatch – raisins contaminated more than ever with agricultural toxins

Raisins appear to be even more heavily contaminated with pesticides than in previous years. Many traces of illegal drugs have even been found. Despite the health risks to consumers, the NVWA has taken no action. This is evident from new research from the food watchdog Foodwatch, which annually requests the control figures from the Dutch Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA).

“These are shocking results that make it very clear that strict action is needed to make our food safe and fair. Supermarkets and governments must now finally take their responsibility,” says campaign manager Anke Bakker from Foodwatch.

The figures show that raisins broke a new record for pesticide contamination last year. The average number of poison residues per sample was 18.6, and no less than 39 types of agricultural toxic residues were found on a Jumbo sample. Last year, Foodwatch also reported on the ‘poison currants’. Pollution was already high at the time, with an average number of toxins of 10.8. The maximum number of toxins found in a sample was then 30. In 2021, the situation will worsen even more. There were also health risks, but because these did not meet enforcement standards, the NVWA did not act.

Because the safety standards only say something about the individual residues, the stacking effects of toxic mixtures are not taken into account at all. This while different residues can reinforce each other dangerously. Foodwatch is also sounding the alarm this year about these flawed safety calculations and is once again calling on supermarkets to keep raisins with toxic cocktails off the shelves.

No supermarket is taking action against poison cocktails on raisins, despite previous warnings from Foodwatch. In the past, a number of supermarkets have set requirements for the maximum number of residues that may be in and on fresh fruit. Aldi and Lidl use a maximum of five, and Albert Heijn sets the limit at three pesticides per fresh product. Because of the possible health risks of combination effects, all supermarkets should make such requirements and also apply them to dried fruit, including raisins. Agreements with growers should aim to ban agricultural poisons altogether.

Foodwatch also encourages the supermarkets to actively communicate with the shelves in the store about the (lack of) policy for pesticides. Anke Bakker: “What requirements do the supermarkets set for cultivation and residual products? The consumer has the right to this information in order to make an informed choice.”

In total, 73 residues of pesticides banned in EU agriculture were found on 18 raisin samples. It concerns 15 different types of illegal substances. These raisins were sold by Albert Heijn, Aldi, Jumbo, Lidl and Plus. Although Brussels has banned these resources in its own agriculture, the import of products grown with them outside the EU is allowed. Foodwatch wants to stop that, because otherwise Europe will continue to cooperate in exposing grape-growing workers in other countries to documented harmful substances. In addition, the toxic residues still end up on the plates of Dutch consumers via food imports.

Foodwatch points out that banned pesticides are still produced by EU member states for export to other parts of the world. “It is morally totally reprehensible that we use this double standard. There is no way Europe can justify this and must put an end to it”, says Anke Bakker. Foodwatch has been fighting this major poison route for years. More than 79,000 people have already sent a protest email via the Foodwatch email campaign to pesticide manufacturers Bayer, BASF and Syngenta, calling on the European Commission to impose an export ban.

The NVWA rarely carries out measurements on organic raisins, but the 11 measurements over the past four years show a remarkable picture. On average, 0.7 toxic residues were still found per measurement. There were a total of eight residues, none of which are allowed in organic farming, and five are even illegal in EU farming. Whether these products have been falsely certified organic has not been further investigated by NVWA.

Compared to conventional raisins, organic raisins are much cleaner. As long as politicians and supermarkets do not make strict demands on the use of pesticides, Foodwatch advises consumers to buy as many organic raisins as possible.

It is clear that raisins are still not clean, despite all the EU’s declared ambitions to reduce the use of pesticides. Foodwatch recently presented the report ‘Locked-in pesticides’ on how European agriculture is trapped in the destructive pesticide system and what is needed to get out of this trap. The report describes an exit strategy per crop that will make it possible to achieve a completely pesticide-free agriculture in the EU by 2035. This requires a drastic reform of European and national agricultural policy.

Source Foodwatch

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