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Asparagus - the least contaminated vegetable

Some refer to it as "the royal vegetable", others as "white gold". Asparagus is one of the most popular seasonal vegetables. Accordingly, it is also frequently monitored by the supervisory authorities in the federal states. The results are encouraging, as the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) announced. Asparagus is one of the least polluted vegetables.

In 2016, as few as 4 of the 502 samples examined showed asparagus pesticide residues above the statutory maximum level (0.8%). It was in 2015, that in none of the 350 samples studied unacceptably high levels were found. Asparagus is always among the foodstuffs that have a large proportion of samples without residues. The proportion of samples without quantifiable residues in the years 2010 to 2016 varied between 83% and 87.5%.

Furthermore, multiple residues were even more extremely rarely found. On average, only 3% of asparagus samples contained residues from several crop protection products. By comparison, on average across all products, the proportion of multiple-residue samples is around 30%. The maximum number of detectable substances per sample was also among the lowest of all products tested. Where ten or more active substances would be detected in a single sample of various other fruit and vegetables, a maximum of five active substances were detectable in asparagus samples between 2010 and 2016.

The MRL is the amount of pesticide residues that should not be exceeded if used properly. Exceeding a maximum residue level does not mean a health hazard.

Asparagus from Germany is the most common product on the market
Asparagus is checked very often. Sample numbers in the years between 2010 and 2016 ranged between 258 (2014) and 502 (2016). As a result, asparagus was usually among the twenty most frequently examined products. The majority of the asparagus examined came from Germany (2016: 77%). This also reflects the share of supply available on the market. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the yield of 127,300 tons of asparagus was only offset by an import volume of around 24,500 tons from EU and non-EU countries. China is the leading cultivation country for stalk vegetables worldwide. Peru and Mexico are also ahead of Germany.

Hardly any perchlorate contamination by fertilizers
As in previous years, asparagus was also tested for perchlorate in 2016. The measurements of a total of 294 asparagus samples showed a quantitatively determinable perchlorate content only for two samples, which was well below the applicable European reference value. The results show that adherence to proven minimization measures (such as the use of very low perchlorate fertilizers) can minimize or even eliminate perchlorate exposure to protect vulnerable consumer groups. The absorption of perchlorate can lead to an inhibition of iodine uptake into the thyroid gland.

Lead levels have dropped significantly
The occurrence of undesirable chemical elements in asparagus was also regularly examined by the official testing laboratories of the federal states - as part of the regular monitoring process. Such environmental contaminants can pose health risks for consumers, depending on their content. The results of the 2010 monitoring show that asparagus was only negligibly contaminated with the elements lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel, arsenic and aluminum. In none of the 207 samples was the legally stipulated maximum content exceeded. Furthermore, in the case of lead, the levels have fallen significantly compared to previous studies. While in monitoring year 1998 in asparagus a mean lead content of 0.026 mg/kg was found, the mean content in 2010 was only 0.009 mg/kg.
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