14 May 1998
Warning on OPs in food imports
By Andrew Evans, Press Association
THE Countess of Mar, who believes her health was affected by organophosphate sheep dips, warned yesterday of a potential danger from imported US fruit and vegetables.
She said a research paper indicated about one million US children each day were “over-exposed” to OPs in their food and that some 100,000 were receiving 10 times the recommended dose.
The Countess (Independent) urged the Government at Lords question time to step up tests on imported US fruit and vegetables.
Lord Donoughue, junior farm minister, replied that the US Food and Drugs Administration had questioned some of the reports assumptions. He went on: “In our own sampling, there was no historic reason to have concerns about imports from the American continent.
“I can assure you that we are bearing in mind the American report and will take into account its implications for our own sampling procedures.”
The minister added that Government was still advising people to peel all carrots and parsnips and that, for young children, all fruit should also be peeled.
Lord Donoughue said: “For childrens food in particular, we do have a regular monitoring programme. And hitherto this has not revealed risk at any level that concern us. We will continue that with all vigour.
“Where we have been concerned is where the safety margin has been eroded, and not the level of human risk. If at any point there was a risk to human life here, whatever the source, we would take the appropriate action.”
He added: “Currently the pesticide residues within the whole unit are not such as to justify any action other than the ones we are taking.”