`Pesticide Levels in Olive Oil Continue to Decline - Olive Oil Times

Pesticide Levels in Olive Oil Continue to Decline

Apr. 8, 2020
Daniel Dawson

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The num­ber of olive oil sam­ples found to exceed the max­i­mum residue level (MRL) for pes­ti­cides in the European Union decreased once again, accord­ing to a recently pub­lished report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The pro­por­tion of olive oils in excess of the pes­ti­cide MRL dropped from 0.9 per­cent in 2015 to 0.6 per­cent in 2018, the last year in which the tests were con­ducted. Virgin olive oil sam­ples that did exceed the pes­ti­cide MRL tested pos­i­tive for ipro­di­one, a fungi­cide banned by the European Union.

Overall, 3,167 dif­fer­ent olive oil sam­ples were tested, includ­ing both inter­nally pro­duced oils and imported ones. Of the 19 sam­ples that exceeded the pes­ti­cide MRL, eight orig­i­nated from Spain, five from Greece, two from Germany, two from Cyprus, one from Italy and one had an unknown ori­gin.

Every three years, the European Union con­trol pro­gram (EUCP) sam­ples 12 of the most com­monly con­sumed food prod­ucts in the trad­ing bloc, includ­ing vir­gin olive oil. The EUCP ana­lyzes the sam­ples for residues from a list of 177 dif­fer­ent pes­ti­cides.

The EUCP ran­domly sam­ples the food prod­ucts most com­monly con­sumed by E.U. cit­i­zens, giv­ing a sta­tis­ti­cally rep­re­sen­ta­tive snap­shot of the sit­u­a­tion of pes­ti­cide residues in those prod­ucts,” co-authors Paula Medina-Pastor and Giuseppe Triacchini wrote in the report.


In 2019, the EUCP tested 91,015 food sam­ples and found that 95.5 per­cent of them fell below estab­lished pes­ti­cide MRLs.

Along with olive oil, broc­coli and chicken eggs also expe­ri­enced a decreas­ing rate of exceedance.

Table grapes, sweet pep­pers and bell pep­pers, egg­plants and bananas expe­ri­enced the largest increases in rates of exceedance.

For many years this report has sup­ported the work of the European Commission and Member States in ensur­ing the proper use of pes­ti­cides in line with E.U. leg­is­la­tion and tar­gets,” Bernhard Url, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of EFSA, said, Efficient col­lec­tion and rig­or­ous analy­sis of such data will con­tinue to be of cen­tral impor­tance in ensur­ing the safety of food sold in the European Union.”

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