20feb pesticides in fruit and vege hero
Research report
11 February 2020

Pesticides in fruit and vege

Nine pesticides banned in the EU detected in our test of local fruit and vege.

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Marian G.
21 Nov 2021
Rolled oats

A thought provoking article. Thanks. Has there been any update from Harraways (and any other NZ suppliers/growers) regarding the goal to be glyphosate free by the end of 2020?

andrea h.
02 May 2020
Systemic pesticides

Just wondering if this study takes Into account systemic pesticides ?
“ Systemic pesticides are chemicals that are actually absorbed by a plant when applied to seeds, soil, or leaves. The chemicals then circulate through the plant's tissues, killing the insects that feed on them. ... Unlike with traditional insecticides, you can't wash or peel off systemic pesticide residues”

Consumer staff
07 May 2020
Re: Systemic pesticides

Hi Andrea,

We tested for more than 200 pesticides, which included both systemic and non-systemic pesticides. Of the pesticides we found, a number were systemic such as acephate and cyprodinil.

Kind regards,
Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

Stuart M.
15 Mar 2020
Where is New World

Its great to see Consumer looking at environmental/health issues, and this is a major one. But would have been useful to get an assessment of ALL the supermarket chains - the report essentially focuses on Countdown and PaknSave. New World is a big chain - how do its veges and fruit test out? Thanks

Stephanie S.
11 Mar 2020
Thank you!

I think this is a good report and as I often say NZ lags behind, ingredients that are banned in EU are found in NZ packets of food. The residue tests are great, as we can now reduce our intake of these. For those that disagree with the article well they obviously haven't read the articles and studies done on links to pesticides and herbicides to health complaints. Carry on the good work Consumer, looking forward to more 'Green' articles.

Rose M.
09 Mar 2020
Biased Testing

The concept of testing fruit and vegetables available in supermarkets in New Zealand for residues is a good one. However, the way this report reads it is a PR exercise for Commonsense Organics, and makes an absolute mockery of the supposedly independent nature of Consumer.

Roger F.
08 Mar 2020
Chemophobic Rubbish

I have been a member on and off (mainly on) since the 1970s. To see Consumer descend to promoting this chemo-phobic nonsense is making me think hard about renewal.
The EU also bans bent bananas (or was it cucumbers?) and hair driers of more than 700W rating (/sarc).
The EU banning something is almost a guarantee of environmental activism and weak-willed politicians blighting our lives with nonsense rather than real problems being solved.
All of those recommended limits (for exposure to X or Y) are 10 or 100 times lower than the concentrations experimentally shown to have any measurable effect at all. Remember the dose causes the effect.

D L.
08 Mar 2020
Appalled by Glyphosate levels in Harroways rolled oats

For over 30 years I have brought Harroways rolled oats on the basis of supporting a Kiwi grown product, that is supposed to be good for ones health, and was appalled to learn that I have apparently been dozing myself daily with Glyphosate at up to 3 times the recommended limit. From your investigation it seems that Harroways have known about excessive Glyphosate levels in rolled oats while continuing to market the product - why? I will not buy a Harroways product again and Australian grown Uncle Toby's Glyphosate free rolled oats is now the daily fare.

Leigh C.
07 Mar 2020

I'm so disappointed. I just joined Consumer to try and put some fact based journalism in my life, and find out you guys are writing this click bait nonsense, just like everyone else. I hope you give MPI and the EPA equally highly positioned space to respond to this ”report”, otherwise you are simply feeding the fake news machine.

Lloyd B.
07 Mar 2020
Please test New World products

As there are only 3 supermarket chains, it would be good to test New World products in future

Kris V.
07 Mar 2020
thanks heaps

thanks for doing this report - doesn't matter if people agree with it or not, what it does do is provide relevant information so we can all make a conscious choice. WOuld be nice to think that all foods in nz could go chemical free one day ... can't come soon enough

andrea h.
07 Mar 2020
Thank you

Well done , thanks for doing this. I hope you will continue this type of testing.
There will always be negative comments from people working in the manufacture of these toxins, and commercial growers that are concerned for their business.

Jane L.
07 Mar 2020
Thank you for this report

Thank a consumer for this work. I will be writing to my local MP to request some action on this, commend the EPA’s work to date but request that they go faster. I would like to see all vegetables safe to eat not just the more expensive organic vegetables.

Alexa B.
07 Mar 2020
Thanks, confirming what I already suspected

Thanks Consumer NZ, id love to see this report be extended to include more foods typically consumed in NZ, rice and green veg as already mentioned.

This report just confirms what I thought and why I use Oooby.co.nz to support local organic farmers!

Prvanov P.
07 Mar 2020
Have you tested rice for chemical residues or for heavy metals ?

Thanks for this article which covered food grown in New Zealand. Have you tested rice for these chemical residues? Rice is pretty much a NZ stable and the average consumption per New Zealander must be quite high, but its all imported, and quite possibly from countries that don't have the controls and standards NZ does. I have also heard that rice can have high levels of arsenic and maybe other heavy metals. Have you tested imported rice for arsenic and other heavy metals? If not, I think this would be important to do. Have heavy metals ever been an issue for NZ grown produce, or has they not been tested for ?

Consumer staff
11 Mar 2020
Re: Have you tested rice for chemical residues or for heavy metals ?

Hi Bert,

Consumer has not tested rice for chemical residues or heavy metals. Heavy metals are tested as part of MPI’s Total Diet Survey. In the 2016 survey aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and tin were included in a range of foods, including white rice. The report can be downloaded at https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/28976-2016-nz-total-diet-study-with-appendices-report.

Kind regards,
Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

11 Mar 2020
Rice - heavy metals and arsenic

Great question - I have just returned from a medical conference where concern was reported about heavy metals and arsenic residues found in rice. Interestingly, brown rice was found to have higher levels than white - presumably the residues are processed off in the production of white rice. The research also found that in the regions where rice was produced with the highest residues, the local populace had a genetic tolerance for the higher levels of arsenic. The same does not go for those of us with genetic dispositions that have evolved outside of regions with naturally occurring higher levels of arsenic.

This is unfortunate given that I've been preferentially eating brown rice for it's higher fibre content! So MPI need to also include brown rice in the above tests.

Wal Marshall
07 Mar 2020
Long term value in such reports

Personally I find this and other similar reports useful and not at all alarmist. Long term they gradually educate the wider public on the reasons for the gradual move by consumers over to organic foods . Better for us, better for the wider environment, and ultimately better for growers as they come to understand that organics can not only be be valuable for their business but ultimately essential for their long term sustainability.

David P.
07 Mar 2020
Pesticides in vegetables

Thanks for a great article. It would be interesting to see more test results for green leafy vegetables, which I understand tend to take up or absorb more chemicals. For example, celery, lettuce, spinach.
Secondly, how do NZ's standards about which products are permitted for commercial use, and the levels permitted, compare to Australia's?

Doug C.
07 Mar 2020
How to reduce risk

Being a disbeliever of the relevance of acceptable limits for toxic compounds in food we set about developing a vegetable based cleaning agent to remove these chemicals. Water was largely a waste of time as these chemicals are not water soluble but we managed to remove nearly all, in some cases down to detection limits. However on trying to sell this product the supermarkets did not want to publicly admit their produce was contaminated. There may be some interest in a household product that might come from this article but there is a general acceptance that authorities know what they are doing when allowing various levels of chemical contamination in food. They are well meaning to be sure but it is not possible to know what you are doing when exposing humans to chemicals, I know as I use this science daily to qualify risks for our scientists. Aside from enlightened self interest it Would be good to have more publicity around this issue - thank you Consumer

Laraine B.
07 Mar 2020

Don't they just! You have to eat them while there is a significant amount of green on them or they are dry and t otally unpalatable. When I was a kid bananas got juicer the black they became. That meant banana cakes were a lot nicer than they are today.

Most bananas in the shops need eating the same day.

Leslie O.
24 Feb 2020
Pesticides in Food

Not sure if it has anything to do with sprays but very often Bananas smell and taste horrible

P R D.
24 Feb 2020
Pesticide in Foods

Thank you for this report. It is valued regardless of what possible industry insiders and apologists may say. Please don't allow yourselves to be bullied.
I definitely want to know this information.

Andrew B.
22 Feb 2020
What the EU does is irrelevant.

I'm not sure why you have referenced what the EU bans throughout this article. Arguably, they often don't get it right. The EU also bans gene-edited crops which goes against the strong scientific consensus that they are not only safe but are likely to reduce inputs such as pesticides, fertiliser and water use.

George D.
07 Mar 2020
nz regulations re agri chemicals

remember, NZ was one of the last countries in the world to stop manufacturing and use 2,4,5 T.
it seems we are always lagging behind in this regards. why would anyone want to consume agri chemicals on a regular basis?it seems to me these chemicals are used because the chemical industry has so much sway and consecutive nz governments run scared of the farm lobby

Previous member
22 Feb 2020
definition of safe mushrooms

you say flat mushrooms are ok. please clarify what is a flat mushroom. does this mean button (white regular) are not ok?

Consumer staff
24 Feb 2020
Re: definition of safe mushrooms

Hi Cecilia,

We only tested flat brown mushrooms - not white button mushrooms.

Kind regards,
Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

Gary B.
22 Feb 2020
Sloppy work from Consumer

As a very long time member I'm sad to see such a sloppy report. Where is the data, as is presented in the NZ Total Diet Study? Who was the lab? What protocols did they use?

Few substances are 'banned', whether in the EU or elsewhere. They are simply not registered for use, for many reasons including there being no market demand, no need (different climate, different pests etc) to impacts on species we don't have here.

As it stands, this report provides no information of use to the consumer, and simply scare mongers and demonises perfectly safe and healthful food.

Consumer staff
24 Feb 2020
Re: Sloppy work from Consumer

Hi Gary,

Testing was conducted by an accredited laboratory. Test results were sent to MPI and MPI advised there was no food safety risk from the levels found in the produce we tested. The report discussed data from MPI’s plant-based foods Food Residues Survey Programme, which tests for chemical residues found in food sold in New Zealand. In the case of some pesticides, they have been banned in the EU – rather than not registered for use. For example, chlorpyrifos was banned earlier this year.

Kind regards,
Belinda - Consumer NZ writer

Gary B.
07 Mar 2020
Poor response

Thanks for the response Belinda. Unfortunately, this it does not reflect the reality and continues to ill-inform the many confused, as is clear from the comments to this article.

Acephate is NOT banned in the EU (and so what if it was when it's approved for use elsewhere, including the US, especially as it's well-known that the EU wrongly invokes the flawed precautionary principle?). The EU status is 'not approved'. Likewise for chlorpyrifos. (https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/pesticides/eu-pesticides-database/public/?event=activesubstance.detail&language=EN&selectedID=909)

There is information on acephate toxicity here: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Acephate#section=Toxicity

The headline of this article should have been "All foods we tested were safe to eat".

What Consumer should be doing is calling out the rort that is organic production. You should be pointing out that people buying organic food are wasting money and contributing to increased land use for agriculture. You should be highlighting the higher levels of natural toxins in some organic produce, the greater suffering of animals when disease infects them, and the greater risk to consumers from pathogens.

You should not be demonising ANY foods, but if you insist on doing so, it should be organic production.

Pamela L.
22 Feb 2020

Thanks so much for looking at this. Disturbing!

Jeavons B.
22 Feb 2020
Pesticides in fruit and vege

A very useful report for me in choosing food products.