Food Safety

Study: Pesticides Remain No. 1 Food Safety Problem

Food Sentry, LLC, a global food source monitoring company based in Albuquerque, N.M., released its latest Food Risk Rating Guide, an analysis of 3,400 food safety violations associated with products exported from 117 different countries that occurred in 2013. The dataset consists of data gathered from multiple sources, including but not limited to, United States, Europe and Japanese regulatory entities. This data is then supplemented and analyzed by Food Sentry’s specially trained analysts. 

The incidents in the dataset were comprised of raw or minimally processed food items that were found to be in violation of the inspecting country’s regulatory scheme, specifically seafood, vegetables, fruits, herbs/spices, dairy, meats, grains, nuts/seeds and more.

According to the data, the Top 10 sources of violative products in 2013 were (in order of frequency) India, China, Mexico, France, United States, Vietnam, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Turkey and Spain. Each of these countries is a substantial food exporter, and it is likely that their products are tested more frequently than other countries. They are also countries whose food you are very likely to encounter in stores and restaurants.

In 2013, the most common problem was, again, excessive or illegal pesticide contamination, which made up over a third of all incidents. More than 135 specific pesticides as well as a very large number of unspecified pesticides were identified and detected in laboratory testing and reported. Other common issues found with food were pathogenic contamination (22%), excessive filth and unsanitary conditions (15.7%), excessive mycotoxin contamination (10.2%), excessive or illegal chemical/additive contamination (4.5%), excessive toxic metal contamination (3.4%), excessive antibiotic/antiprotozoan contamination (2.2%), unspecified regulatory non-compliance (2.2%) and excessive or illegal drug contamination (1.4%).

The United States inspects less than 2% of all food that is imported into the country, out of approximately 25 million shipments per year. The vast majority of food coming into most countries is never inspected.

Although there has been increasing global focus on cleaning up the food supply in all countries, it is clear that much remains to be done.

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