Traces of 123 pesticides, including those linked to cancer, hormone disruption and damage to brain development, have been found in fresh produce supplied to primary school children through a government scheme aimed at promoting healthy eating habits. CATHERINE EARLY reports
A government-funded scheme providing free fruit and vegetables to all four to six-year olds in the country sounds like a health win. However, research by campaigners at Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN UK) has revealed that the produce supplied may not be as healthy as it seems.
The research analysed the government’s own data from regular testing of fruit and vegetables by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF). In two thirds of the samples tested, residues of more than one pesticide were detected, with some individual samples containing as many as thirteen different chemicals.
PAN UK is particularly concerned about this, as it says there has been little research on the combined effect of ingesting multiple pesticides on humans, particularly children, and almost no understanding of the long-term effects on health. Levels of residues are restricted by government, but this only covers pesticides used individually, the organisation said