Least pesticide residues in Danish fruits and vegetables

Monday 20 Jan 14


Jens Hinge Andersen
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 72 52


Bodil Hamborg Jensen
Senior adviser
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 74 68
Danish fruits and vegetables contain fewer pesticide residues than similar foreign foods. Furthermore, more than one residue was more frequently found in samples of foreign origin compared to Danish foods. None of the pesticide residues found present a health concern to Danes. These findings appear in the pesticide report 2012 from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the National Food Institute have analysed 2,497 samples from the Danish pesticide control programme in 2012, and the results show that the residues of pesticides in foods on the Danish market is at the same level as previous years. Almost half of the conventionally grown fruits and vegetables on the Danish market contained pesticide residues.

The analyses show that fruits from countries outside the EU contained most pesticide residues; pesticide residues were found in 74% of the samples. In fruits from EU countries, 69% of the samples contained pesticide residues, whereas the proportion of Danish fruits with pesticide residues was 58%. In general, pesticide residues are more frequently found in fruits than in vegetables. The corresponding figures for conventionally grown vegetables are 36% for countries outside the EU, 50% for EU countries and 13% for Denmark.

Pesticide residues were not found in meat; this corresponds with previous years.

No exceeding of limit values in Danish fruits

In Danish fruits, no samples exceeded the maximum residue levels set by the EU, whereas 1% of the samples from fruits produced in other EU countries and 3% of the samples from countries outside the EU exceed the limit values.

As regards conventionally grown vegetables, 0.4% of the samples from Denmark exceeded the maximum residue levels, whereas 1.6% of the samples from other EU countries and 1.4% of samples from countries outside the EU exceeded the maximum residue levels.

Findings are below health limit values

The proportion of samples with residues of more than one type of pesticide is 25%, which corresponds with results in previous years. A larger proportion of samples of foods produced abroad contains a wider range of pesticides than foods produced in Denmark. Foreign produced foods with residues of more than one type of pesticide constitute nearly every third sample, whereas the figure is 7% as regards Danish foods.

Researchers at the National Food Institute have assessed samples containing different types of pesticide residues as well as check samples where the limit values set by the EU were exceeded. They conclude that none of the findings constitute a health risk for consumers as the total impact does not reach the health-affecting level.

Most findings of pesticide residues in foreign organic foods

217 samples of organic foods were tested, in 1.4% of which pesticide residues were found. One of these three samples is from Denmark. However, the pesticide residue content is so low that the finding may be caused by unintended pollution.

Read more

See the entire report (in Danish only): Pesticidrester i fødevarer 2012 – Resultater fra den danske pesticidkontrol (pdf).

Please also read (in Danish only) pressemeddelelse fra Ministeriet for Fødevarer, Landbrug og Fiskeri.

The annual pesticide report from the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and the National Food Institute is supplemented by ongoing publication of quarterly control data. The National Food Institute prepares and publishes these quarterly reports. Results are available online (in Danish only).