At least two pesticides in half of the bread sold in the UK, the data show

Half of the bread sold in the UK contains at least two different pesticides, government data revealed.

According to the analysis by Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN), this is a 50% increase compared to last year and a significant increase in the last decade when, on average, it was found that around 25% of bread contains pesticide cocktail.

The PAN asks the Secretary for the Environment, Thérèse Coffey, to “take urgent measures to reduce the damage caused by pesticides”.

Each year, the UK government tests the foods on sale for consumption for pesticides and releases details of which ones have been found. This year, more than a third (47) of the total pesticides found on products are not approved in the UK, meaning British farmers cannot use them.

It tested a range of bread products – from standard wholemeal and white bread to scones, scones and muffins – and found a total of 11 different pesticides, including five that PAN says have links to cancer.

Nick Mole, from PAN, said: “With the cost of living crisis forcing people to spend less on food, it is imperative that consumers can trust that relatively cheap products like bread will not expose them to dangerous mixes. of chemicals. The government says it is committed to tackling pesticides, so why have pesticide cocktails been allowed to double into a staple that most of us eat at least once a day?

The test, which took place in 2021, also revealed that pesticides are widely present in fruits and vegetables, with 100% of grapefruit sampled containing at least one pesticide. The largest number of pesticides found on a 1 kg grapefruit sample was nine.

Just under a third of vegetables (30%) and more than two thirds of fruit (69%) were found to contain residues of more than one chemical.

Mole added: “There is a growing body of evidence showing that pesticides can become more harmful when combined. Yet we continue to set safe limits for only one chemical at a time. We actually have no idea of ​​the long-term impact of consuming small amounts of hundreds of different chemicals. We are choosing to play Russian roulette with people’s health ”.

Government testing revealed 137 different pesticide residues in all products, including many linked to severe chronic health effects. This included 46 carcinogens, 27 endocrine disruptors that can interfere with hormone systems and in some cases cause birth defects, developmental disorders and reproductive problems such as infertility and 14 cholinesterase inhibitors, which reduce the ability of nerve cells to exchange information and can compromise the respiratory system and cause confusion, headache and weakness.

Mark Willis, Head of Chemical Contaminants and Residues Branch at the Food Standards Agency, said, “Our role is to protect consumers by ensuring that any food placed on the market is safe. If pesticides in a food product are above a maximum residue level, the FSA will be notified. If it exceeds this maximum level and may pose a health risk, we will ensure that appropriate measures are taken, such as removing items from the market. “

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