A quarter of plant-based foods in Brazil show pesticide residues

A program traced 1,700 samples from across the country

Published on 06/12/2023 - 15:07 By Paula Laboissière - Brasília

Data from Brazil’s drug watchdog Anvisa shows that a quarter of plant-based foods consumed in the country have pesticide residues higher than permitted, or unauthorized. “Noncompliance is a sign of error in production and in the adoption of good agricultural practices,” the agency said at the release of the 2022 results of its program on pesticide residues in food.

Of the total of 1,772 samples analyzed and collected from supermarkets across the country, 41.1 percent had no residues, and, in 33.9 percent of them, they were within the permitted limit. The samples are collected weekly by state and municipal health authorities.

Regarding traceability, the results show that 67 percent of the samples could be traced back to the distributor and 23 percent to the rural producer. The samples are examined in specialized labs using internationally recognized methods, Anvisa stated.

Three samples presented an acute risk of damage to the consumer’s health when a large portion of the food is eaten in a short space of time—like one meal, or one day of consumption.

As for chronic risk, none of the pesticides surveyed displayed exposure through food consumption greater than the acceptable daily intake.

Oranges

One of the highlights cited by the agency in program is the reduction of acute risk in oranges. In the 2013–2015 cycle, 12.1 percent of the samples had acute risk potential. In the 2018–2019 cycle, the figure fell to three percent, and, in the 2022 samples, it stood at 0.6 percent.

“One of the main reasons for this evolution was the ban on the use of carbofuran in re-evaluation and the elimination of the use of carbosulfan in citrus crops,” said Anvisa, which restricted other substances, like as methidathion and formethanate.

For these pesticides, authorization to use them on foods such as oranges, grapes, and strawberries was also withdrawn.

Re-evaluation

Over the last ten years, research data have been used to inform the re-evaluation of pesticides in Brazil. The program also made it possible to draw up a joint standard between Anvisa and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock for food traceability.

“The results also guide the possibility of restrictions on certain pesticides for specific crops, such as carbosulfan, methidationa, and formetanate, which have been restricted for some crops,” Anvisa concluded saying.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Nádia Franco

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