Ásta Heiðrún E. Pétursdóttir
Head of Public Health and Food Safety
In general, pesticides are used in order to promote more effective production of fruit and vegetables, but can be very harmful to people's health and the environment.
The goal of the project was to screen products on the Icelandic market for pesticide residues, compare the measured amounts in imported and Icelandic products, and to investigate whether there was a difference in the concentration of pesticide residues, heavy metals and nutrients in the exterior/skin of fruits and vegetables in comparison to their interior/flesh .
166 samples (fruits, berries, vegetables, salad, herbs and cereals) of Icelandic (42%) and imported products (58%) were screened for pesticide residues. In the sequel, the concentration of pesticides, nutrients and heavy metals in the skin and inside of products (n=44) was measured.
The results were that 49% of products on the Icelandic market contained pesticide residues, 61% of imported products and 31% of Icelandic products. However, their concentrations in samples were generally low and within the maximum permissible values in 94% samples. Fewer types of pesticides were found in Icelandic vegetables than in imported vegetables. There was a higher concentration of pesticide residues and heavy metals in the skins of fruits and vegetables compared to the contents. Then the skin of vegetables turned out to be more fibrous than the contents. In addition, Icelandic vegetables were richer in minerals and trace elements than imported vegetables.