Banned pesticides found on fruit, vegetables sold in Taiwan's supermarkets

PHOTO: Banned pesticides found on fruit, vegetables sold in Taiwan's supermarkets

Independent labs found pesticides on 43 of 58 types of supermarket produce, according to a Greenpeace report released yesterday. Of these 43, eleven contained illegal pesticides.

Greenpeace tested 58 fruits and vegetables from major Taiwan supermarket chains last December, as part of its campaign to rate food safety.

Samples were drawn randomly from eight retail supermarkets and wholesale markets across Taiwan, which include Wellcome, Matsusei, Far Eastern AMart, RT-Mart, Carrefour, and PxMart.

11 Cases of Banned Pesticides

Results from three independent labs showed that 43 of the 58 samples came up positive for pesticides.

Moreover, 11 of these 43 tainted fruits and vegetables contain "virulent" and illegal pesticides.

Residues from at least one banned pesticide were found on 11 kinds of produce, which include kumquats, jujubes, leeks, mustard greens, green beans, and wax apples.

Additional samples contained pesticides that are not banned altogether, but which the Council of Agriculture (COA) still deems hazardous.

For instance, a sample of leeks carried the legal fungicide "carbendazim" at a concentration of 2.7 parts per million (ppm) - which exceeds the nation's safety limit of 1.0 ppm by 2.7 times, said Project Manager Tsai Szu-ting from the Taipei office of Greenpeace.

Said Tsai, local consumers tend to trust hypermarts, which need to step up to their responsibility as corporate citizens. Tsai urged hypermarts to launch tracking systems, so they are better able to identify and reject produce based on the risk to consumers.

25 Cases of Pesticide 'Cocktails'

Lab results also pointed up the prevalence of pesticide "cocktails" on supermarket produce, Tsai continued.

Pesticide "cocktails" may be problematic because individual pesticides react in ways that are not all identified. Unlike the effects of individual pesticides, the health effects of synergistic "cocktails" are difficult to study.

Cocktails of at least three kinds of chemical residues were found on 25 types of produce, including Chinese cabbage at an RT-Mart and grapes at a Matsusei.

Wax apples at a Hualien Far Eastern AMart contained seven types of pesticides, while bok choy at a Taichung branch contained eight.

In a Taipei Wellcome mart, Greenpeace found a sample of kumquats that carried 9 different kinds of pesticides.