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High pesticide levels found in potato and carrot in Nilgiris

Date: 28 January 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A study of fruits and vegetables grown in the Nilgiris has found that some of the produce might be harbouring high levels of pesticide, beyond what is considered advisable. This was considerable in potato and carrot.

 

Background

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) prescribes a maximum residual level (MRL) for some of the organophosphate pesticides used but it does not prescribe it for some other pesticides used in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables.

 

Details

  • The team developed a sensitive method to estimate the levels of organophosphates in the fruits and vegetables using liquid chromatography in tandem with mass spectrometry.

  • It is known that organophosphate pesticides such as acephate, malathion, profenofos, chlorpyrifos and quinalphos are used in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. 

  • Researchers collected samples of 18 varieties of fruit and vegetable  from four cities of the Nilgiris namely Ooty, Gudalur, Kothagiri and Coonoor.

  • The researchers did not detect pesticides in approximately 57% of the samples. Close to 34% had pesticides used below the MRLs and the remainder showed usage of pesticides above the MRLs.

  • Of the 659 randomly picked fruit and vegetable samples studied, 53 had higher levels of pesticide. These were mainly in strawberry, potato, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, garlic and broccoli.

  • About 85% of these samples contained chlorpyrifos, which was the most common, followed by quinalphos, acephate, profenofos and malathion.

  • Among the varieties of vegetables and fruits studied, potato and carrot had the highest usage of these pesticides.

  • Researchers say that residual monitoring in fruits and vegetables is important to ensure minimal pesticide residue level to safeguard consumer health.