Media release from Safe Food Campaign 10 Feb 14
Grapes have the most pesticides: new dirty dozen
Which foods in New Zealand contain more pesticide residues? What's wrong with pesticide residues? How can residues be reduced? Alison White, researcher and Co-convenor of the Safe Food Campaign, will give an update of her research on the "dirty dozen" this Wednesday at 8pm in Wellington. Further details are available www.safefood.org.nz
Grapes, celery, a range of fruit, pak or bok choi, spring onions, cucumber and bread are all ranked in the top dozen of foods available in New Zealand which are more likely to contain pesticide residues. Close contenders behind this "dirty dozen" are apples, spinach, olive oil, muesli and tomatoes.
"The grapes analysed contained an amazing 35 different pesticides in the total number of samples, with 98.2% having residues," commented Ms White. The table grapes analysed were bought in supermarkets and were likely to be imported, with testing carried out by the Ministry of Primary Industries.
Grapes were found to contain an organophosphate insecticide called chlorpyrifos, which, as much research indicates, can have damaging effects on the young brain even at a minute dose. Ms White pointed out that studies measuring the placental cord blood at birth for chlorpyrifos have shown significant cognitive impairment, reduced IQ and psychomotor development in children at least 11 years after birth. "Prenatal exposure to chlorpyifos is permanently altering children's brain structure," she stated.
In New Zealand chlorpyrifos is used on a range of fruit, vegetables and grain, and has been found, apart from in grapes, in bread and other wheat products, processed foods such as muesli, raisins, olive oil, banana, lemons, silverbeet, spring onion, celery and other fruit.
Unwelcome pesticides have also been detected in baby food, including three fungicides, iprodione, imazalil and mancozeb, which are linked to cancer, hormonal disruption and developmental damage. A petition will be launched at the talk which will ask parliament to put into place legislation to have zero tolerance for pesticides in baby food. This would bring New Zealand into line with the European Union, which does not permit residues greater than 0.01 part per million.
"While washing, peeling, soaking in a mixture of vinegar and water and cooking generally reduce residues, some go right through, including chlorpyrifos, imazalil, iprodione and mancozeb," said Ms White. She encourages prospective mothers and parents of young children especially to grow and buy organic food. "By having organic food you support a system which better protects our children as well as the environment," concluded Ms White.
Alison White, ph (04) 476 8607, 021 169 9120, or email