Think twice before eating them daily

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Bangalore, 24 October 2010: A report by a New Delhi-based NGO has made a startling revelation regarding ‘health’ of fruits consumed by urban dwellers.


The urban dwellers (New Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata) in the country are said to consume fruits with high doses of harmful pesticide residues in them. The dosage exceeds the permissible limits.


The adage - ‘Eat fruits to stay healthy’ has just been turned on its side, with the Delhi-based organisation ‘Consumer Voice,’ (CV) coming out with startling figures which can turn even regular fruit consumption carcinogenic.


With chemical contents such as endosuplhan, captan, thiacloprid, methyl parathion and DDT residues found in larger quantities, the agency in its finding titled ‘Slow poisoning by slack standard’ has stated that it would lead to several ailments initially, and might turn carcinogenic in the later days.


The organisation randomly picked up samples from New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore’s roadside shops and wholesale markets. “We picked the samples randomly and subjected them to test at National Accreditation Board (for testing and calibration) Laboratories, where we found pesticide residues in them,” said Sisir Ghosh, Head - Corporate Affairs, CV.


The study, aimed at identifying the level of residues in fresh fruits and examining the total level of pesticides used in the individual fruits as per MRL (Maximum Residual Limit) of permitted pesticides, also found four pesticides aldrin, chlordane, endrin and heptachlor residues. “These pesticides are banned for manufacture, import and use,” said Ghosh. The report also intends to identify presence of pesticides which are banned due to their potential toxicity impacts.


Permissible limits


H Wadhwa, Technical head, CV, explaining the level of residues in the fruit said that the level of pesticide is so high in some fruits that the instruments could not quantify the contamination. “Surprisingly, pesticides in some of the imported fruits were within the permissible limits as per the standards of consumption in India,” he said. “If the permissible limit of endosuplhan is 2,000 parts per billion (ppb), the sample of cherry when subjected to test revealed that it was 5,762.92 ppb in the fruits we consume,” he said.


The presence of Thiacloprid in imported apple is 23.06, a little more than the permissible limit (20 ppb in Europe and 15,000 in India), but there is no details of the apples grown in India. Twelve fruits, tested by CV, which are regularly consumed, were found with pesticides and had violated the European Union and the Indian Standards of Pesticides in the fruits.


The pesticides and insecticides are the common potent chemicals sprayed on fruits and other crops to curb attacks and damage from various insects and pests. In tropical countries like India, possibilities of pest damages are maximum due to hot and humid weather.


Suggested solution


CV has warned people against consumption of unwashed fruits, switching over to organic fruits and consumption of fresh fruits to reduce exposure to pesticide. Fruits subjected to test along with their numbers: apple (11), banana (5), cherry (4), chikoo (2), grapes (2), khubani (3), kiwi (3), litchi (3), mango (11), musk melon (4), papaya (4), peach (5), pears (5), pineapple (4), plum (5), pomegranate (5) and watermelon (4).



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