New data out of the European Union (EU) shows that food consumed in that region is still mostly pesticide-free.

A monitoring report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has found that foods tested primarily contain pesticide residues that fall within the region’s legal limits--more than 97 percent of them, to be exact. Over half (53 percent) were completely free of quantifiable pesticide residues. These figures are from samples collected across the EU in 2015.

During that year, 84,341 samples were tested for 774 pesticides. Samples included aubergines, bananas, broccoli, butter, eggs, table grapes, orange juice, peas, sweet peppers, virgin olive oil, and wheat.

Broccoli had the highest exceedance rate with 3.4 percent of samples testing over the legal limits. This was followed by table grapes (1.7 percent). Virgin olive oil, orange juice, and chicken eggs had the lowest exceedance rates. There were no exceedances recorded for butter.

The testing included the EU Member States, plus Iceland and Norway. Some additional countries that were involved were not reported. Besides the positive numbers reported above, 44 percent of tested samples contained residues that did not exceed legal limits.

However, not all samples tested flew under the radar. Just over 5 percent of samples from non-EU countries exceeded legal pesticide limits. This was an improvement from 6.5 percent reported in 2014. Including the EU, just under 2 percent of samples were over the legal pesticide limits.


  • 96.5 percent of foods intended for infants and children were either free of pesticide residue or fell within legal limits.
  • 99.3 percent of organic foods were either free of pesticide residue or fell within legal limits.
  • 84.4 percent of animal products were free of quantifiable pesticide residues.

Given these numbers, EFSA’s report suggests a number of recommendations for increasing the efficiency of EU-coordinated and national pesticide control programs.

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