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Singapore: 3%-5% of fruit, vegetables exceeded pesticide limits

Staff Writer |
In Singapore last year, around 300 batches of vegetables - mostly leafy greens - and fruit were stopped from being sold, after pesticide residues found on samples exceeded levels allowed by the authorities.

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The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), sampled about 8,000 consignments of imported vegetables and fruit for pesticides last year.

About 3 to 5 percent were rejected for containing too much pesticide, a rate that has remained constant over the years, said the AVA.

But this does not necessarily mean that they are unsafe, stressed the AVA and food science experts.

While the levels used for food safety inspections - also known as maximum residue limits (MRLs) - are safeguards to protect consumers from toxic levels, they are not absolute food safety limits.

"Detection of MRL violations does not necessarily mean the food is unsafe for consumption, as MRLs are set with a large safety margin," said Dr Wu Yuan Sheng, deputy director of the Pesticide Residues Section at AVA's Laboratories Group.

This large margin, he explained, is put in place to ensure that even if people consumed multiple types of food with the same pesticide, the levels of toxins ingested will still be safe for the body.

The AVA did not specify the vegetables that failed the inspection, or where they are from.

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