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TOXIC FRUIT & VEG; Pesticides in food break safety limits.

Byline: STEPHEN MOYES

FRUIT and vegetables in our shops can contain illegal levels of pesticides, says a report.

Lettuce, celery and carrots are among foods persistently breaching safe limits.

A Consumers' Association study of Government tests showed certain foods regularly exceed tight standards.

Tests on lettuce found 17 per cent contained more than the maximum level of pesticide last year - in one case four times the legal limit.

Eighty per cent of strawberries tested in 1999 contained residues and 42 per cent multiple residues.

The CA, whose report is out this week, took a closer look at annual Government tests - which had shown that between a third and half of fruit and veg samples contained pesticide residues and up to three per cent were over legal limits.

Helen Parker, editor of the association's magazine Which? said: "The monitoring shows that while most fruit and veg contain no detectable residues, others consistently contain residues and some exceed the legal limit."

She advised: "Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly, discard outer leaves and don't use peel or zest" - the outer part of the rind. "Peeling is a sensible precaution. Consider buying organic."

Those with persistent problems included apples, carrots, celery, grapes, lettuce, pears, strawberries.

Ones to watch: apple juice, aubergines, fruit based baby food, broccoli, cherries, cucumbers, mushrooms, oranges, onions, orange juice, peaches and nectarines, plums, potatoes, raspberries, fresh spinach and tomatoes, sweet peppers.

Few or no residues: baby vegetables, brussels sprouts, cabbages, garlic, sweetcorn, swedes, radishes, turnips, frozen peas, green beans, spring onions.

M&S and Somerfield said last month they will cut pesticide use.
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 6, 2001
Words:263
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