Photo: Colourbox

Pesticide load still lowest in Danish crops

Monday 05 Sep 16


Bodil Hamborg Jensen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 68

Danish fruits and vegetables generally have a lower pesticide load than similar imported crops on the Danish market. This is the finding of a study which the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, has carried out on behalf of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. Pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables sold in Denmark do not constitute a health risk for people who eat a varied diet – regardless of where the crops come from.

The National Food Institute has carried out a study of the pesticide load in Danish and imported fruit and vegetables on behalf of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. It is based on data on pesticide residues in different crops, which have been collected as part of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration’s pesticide control programme from 2010-2014 . The pesticide load is calculated from the total of all detected pesticide residues relative to their ADI (Acceptable Daily Intake). ADI is a toxicological value based on known long-term effects of a substance. 

Different models, same main conclusion

There is no one universally accepted method to accurately rank the crops according to their pesticide load. Therefore the National Food Institute has chosen to use different models to study the pesticide load. While the results vary depending on the model that is used, all models reach the same conclusion: Danish fruit and vegetables generally have the lowest pesticide load.

For 17 out of the 20 studied crops where there was sufficient collected data to make a comparison, the pesticide load is unequivocally lowest in Danish produce. The pesticide load is only highest in Danish samples in one case, namely head cabbage.

The study can also identify significant sources of pesticide intake and can be used in conjunction with changes in pesticide use and regulation.

No health risk

In essence the study concludes that Danes are not exposed to a health risk from pesticides by eating fruits and vegetables as part of a varied diet – regardless of where the crops come from. Consumers can, nevertheless, reduce their intake of pesticide residues by choosing  crops produced in Denmark instead of similar foreign foods.

Effect of modified maximum residue limits

The report is a follow-up to a similar study based on data from 2008-2012. The maximum residue limit – that is how much of the compound may be present in the food – has been lowered for several of the pesticides since the first report was published.

The National Food Institute has found lower residues of several of these pesticides in the studied crops. This shows that changes in pesticide use and to regulation has an effect on the pesticide load.

Read more

The report ’Pesticider i frugt og grønt 2010-2014. Kostens pesticidbelastning fra frugt og grøntsager’ as well as a detailed spreadsheet can be found on the National Food Institute’s website.

In the study the pesticide load of Danish crops is compared with foreign crops. However, it is important to note that even though foreign crops are regarded as one group, there may be huge differences in the pesticide load from country to country.