Consumers have little to fear from pesticide residues in their food, according to the latest quarterly report from the Pesticide Residues Committee.

The report found that out of 1,140 samples of 21 different foods tested, just 11 contained residues above the maximum permitted levels, and none of these residues were likely to cause concern for people’s health.

Half the remaining samples had no detectable residues, while a further 564 samples contained pesticides, but were below the maximum residue level (MRL) – the legally permitted level.

No residues were detected in any samples of milk, pork, turkey, water or cider.

Chairman of the committee, Dr Ian Brown, said: “The majority of food sampled either does not contain detectable residues, or where residues are found, they are in accordance with legal limits.

“The results show about 1% contained residues in excess of the legal levels. We have looked carefully at the findings and concluded that, in all cases, the residues found were unlikely to have resulted in any health effects for consumers.

“These results should reassure consumers that the food they eat continues to be safe. I can understand that some people have concerns about pesticide residues in their food.

“But as a doctor, I cannot over-emphasise the importance of continuing to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Scientific evidence shows that the health benefits far outweigh any concerns about pesticide residues.”

The Pesticide Residues Committee is an independent body, which advises the government, the Food Standards Agency and the Pesticides Safety Directorate.

The MRL is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue – expressed as milligrams per kilogram, or parts per million – legally permitted in or on our food and animal feeds. The levels are not safety limits, but are set at levels that protect the consumer.

The full report is available online here.