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Germany: Residues of plant protection products on citrus fruits

"First the positive results: the maximum residue levels of pesticides have not been exceeded in any of the 30 samples of citrus fruits that have just been examined," says Frerk Feldhusen, Director of the State Office for Agriculture, Food Safety and Fisheries MV in Rostock.

Ten samples of tangerines, ten samples of grapefruit, six orange and four lemon samples have been analyzed for more than 400 active ingredients of each plant protection product (PPP). Biologically/ecologically produced were two citrus fruits (1 x lemon, 1 x orange), all others came from the conventional cultivation.

While the two bio-samples did not show any residues, the remaining citrus fruits contained up to seven active substances per pest control per sample (maximum seven PSM in one clementine and two grapefruit samples). In this case, we speak of multiple residues.

Citrus fruits may be treated with PSM to prolong shelf life even after harvesting. Conventional active ingredients for post-harvest treatment and mould fungus avoidance are imazalil, thiabendazole and o-phenylphenol, which were also often detectable in current studies. However, the post-harvest treatment is subject to labeling. A sample of grapefruit was objected to because of the lack of identification of such a post-harvest treatment with thiabendazole.

For the safety of consumers and because of the special peel treatment methods, citrus fruits are examined as whole fruits, so both pulp and peel are analysed. The maximum residue levels for PPPs refer to the whole fruit. It is well-known that the pulp generally only contains about 18% of active PPP ingredients compared to whole fruits with their peel (tests by the Federal Office for Risk Assessment, Berlin).

"In order to minimize the transfer of residues from the peel to the pulp, washing one’s hands after peeling and before eating the fruits generally makes sense. This can be supplemented by washing the citrus fruits before peeling," explains Feldhusen.

Origin of the citrus fruits:
24 x Spain
2 x Italy
2 x Turkey
1 x Greece
1 sample without indication of origin

Peel-treating agents (post-harvesting agents) are fungicides (antifungal agents) which are often applied to the citrus peel together with various waxes. The aim is to avoid spoilage of the fruit during transport and storage. The wax protects the fruits from dehydration. Thereafter, the peels are no longer suitable for human consumption. Therefore, this post-harvest treatment must be made clear when sold to the consumer.

Source: lallf

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