Pesticides found in over 60% of UK’s bread

A new study of government data shows that two in every three loaves of bread sold in the UK contain pesticide residue. 

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A new study of government data shows that two in every three loaves of bread sold in the UK contain pesticide residue. 

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The ‘Pesticides in your daily bread’ report, published by Pesticide Action Network UK, cites DEFRA‘s figures from 2000-2013. 61.49% of the non-organic bread samples tested were found to contain residues of at least one pesticide, compared to only 7% of organic samples. 

Tests on bread are carried out yearly by the government’s Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF), which also found that 25% of loaves consumed in Britain contained residues of more than one pesticide. None of the residue levels were considered unsafe for health, as they all fell below the Maximum Residue Level (MRL). The EU Pesticide Database lists the MRL for Glyphosate, the pesticide most commonly found in bread, at 10mg per kg of wheat. 

PAN UK does not agree that MRLs are safe indicators for health, stating in their report that: “MRLs do not take into account repeated low-dose ingestion, nor reflect the potential effects of ingesting multiple pesticide residues. They are therefore not necessarily safe levels for consumers.”

However, a spokesman for The Federation of Bakers said: “The official Defra expert report, on which the Pan UK report is based, concludes quite clearly that there are no negative impacts on health from any of the residues detected on bread. The interpretation of the report by Pan UK is simply scaremongering consumers into thinking bread is not a healthy food choice.”

A new study, reported on Countryfile.com last week, showed significant nutritional differences between organic and non-organic food, including that conventionally farmed crops were four times more likely to contain pesticide residues. 

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2010 poll conducted by the Soil Association found that one of the main reasons customers buy organic food was because of the restricted use of pesticides. Meanwhile, Nick von Westenholz, CEO of the Crop Protection Association commented on the fears over pesticide residues that: “tests show that no consumers are exposed to residues at levels that threaten their health. Over 97% of UK farms are conventional and these farms produce crops that are healthy, affordable and safe.”