Pesticide-tainted pears spark EU emergency measures

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Ec, European union

The European Commission has imposed emergency measures on pear imports from Turkey after some shipments were found to contain pesticide residues over 1,400 times above acceptable levels.

Identifying the potentially “high level of risk”,​ the EC has ordered member states to increase testing of all Turkish pears after inspections repeatedly found levels of the pesticide amitraz on the fruit that exceeded the acceptable threshold – the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD). The EC took action yesterday after numerous breaches were reported via the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) over a two-year period between 2007 and 2009.

“Given the high level of risk to which European consumers may be exposed, Member States should control at least 10 per cent of consignments of pears originating from Turkey for the presence of amitraz at import,”​ said a draft EC decision.

National food safety bodies must carry out documentary, identity and physical checks, including laboratory analysis on fresh pears falling within CN codes 0808 20 10 and 0808 20 50 originating in or consigned from Turkey. Shipments will be detained while awaiting test results, said the EC.

Excessive levels

The majority of the notifications are believed to have come from Germany, with one other EU country also reporting infringements. The ARfD for amitraz is 0.01mg/kg bodyweight. In October alone, seven reports detected pesticide levels vastly in excess of this figure. One of 15.7mg/kg bw showed levels more than 1,400 times above the acceptable threshold, while other samples included 10.4 mg/kg, 9.8 mg/kg and 5.9 mg/kg.

Members of the Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal (SCoFCAH) yesterday backed the draft decision from the EC to boost safety inspections. Pear consignments from Turkey already on the market will also need to be tested and any adverse results reported to RASFF. All test results, including favourable ones, should be reported on a fortnightly basis, said an EC statement.

Urgency

It is understood the EC will await reports from across the bloc before taking any further action on Turkish pear imports. It added that measures will be reviewed regularly – believed to be every two weeks.

“Given the urgency it is appropriate to adopt these emergency measures in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 53(1) of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002,”​ said the EC’s draft decision, expected to be ratified early nest week.

Under Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, the EC can adopt “emergency measures for food and feed imported from a third country in order to protect human health, animal health or the environment, where the risk cannot be contained satisfactorily by means of measures taken by the Member States individually”.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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