Health risk low despite pesticides on fresh produce
Ministry report says level of pesticides in fruits and vegetables does not pose a health threat to consumers.
Cucumbers and Tomatoes. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post
The level of pesticides in fruits and vegetables does not pose a health threat
to consumers, based on estimates of daily consumption, the Health Ministry said
The report, prepared by the ministry’s National Food Service,
said that there is “possible exposure to pesticides used in agriculture,” but
the “quantifiable estimates of pesticides in fresh produce is minimal, if at
Thus, the ministry showed, the health benefits of fresh fruits and
vegetables supersede the risk of what is sprayed on them.
The report, it
said, is “based on estimates of theoretical exposure” that were collected by the
Health and Agriculture Ministries. A total of 56.7 percent of samples show
pesticide residue, and in 11.24% of those, excessive levels were
The residues from 133 active substances were detected. The risk
from each of the 133 was calculated using the maximum national consumption of
pesticides, the ministry said. The “vast majority of the substances do not cause
danger to health,” the report said.
Taking the most careful assessment,
it added, “one cannot rule out danger from seven substances that are still
allowed for use,” the ministry said.
The fact that some of the produce
eaten is processed through cooking or peeling of fruits and vegetables reduces
the exposure and the health risk, it continued.
In sum, the National Food
Service concluded that “there is possible exposure to agricultural pesticides,
but estimates of the quantities [consumed] show that the risk is minimal if at
At the same time, the ministry is continuing to work to reduce and
eventually halt the use of risky pesticides. Some have already been taken out of
use, while the rest will be stop being used in 2013, the ministry
In any case, consumers are urged to soak produce carefully in soap
and water before eating or cooking to further minimize the risk (although some
pesticides remain despite such cleaning).