Fruit sprayed with pesticide linked to food poisoning, claim scientists

A A A

Unwashed fresh fruit and vegetables sprayed with pesticide could be responsible for passing on food-poisoning bacteria, say Canadian researchers who found that dangerous bugs multiplied in the solutions sprayed on crops.

Unwashed fresh fruit and vegetables sprayed with pesticide could be responsible for passing on food-poisoning bacteria, say Canadian researchers who found that dangerous bugs multiplied in the solutions sprayed on crops.

Simple rinsing of produce under a tap "does little to remove harmful bacteria", said the scientist who led the research. He recommends a good scrubbing with soap and water.

Fears about such food-borne poisoning has recently led to a boom in domestic products that can thoroughly wash all sorts of vegetables and fruit - including hand-operated spin dryers to remove any trace of contaminants.

Such action is necessary because bacteria such as salmonella, listeria and E.coli 0157 can all thrive in the presence of some fungicides and insecticides that are officially approved for use on raw fruit, said Greg Blank and his colleagues at the University of Manitoba.

Dr Blank, of the university's department of food science, was intrigued by the growth in the number of cases of food poisoning attributed to fresh produce, New Scientist magazine reports today. So he set up an experiment to replicate the effect of a farmer using bacteria-contaminated water to mix his sprays.

The results were alarming: "Numbers [of bacteria] could increase one-thousandfold," he reported. The bacteria thrived on about one-third of the pesticides approved for use.

However, the Canadian work was criticised by Ross Dyer, the technical manager of the Crop Protection Association in Britain. He said that any such problem would be caused by the contaminated water - and that, rather than the use of pesticides per se, was the weakness. "If the water supply is contaminated, it's that that's supplying the bacteria in the first place," he said.

But Dr Blank said: "You have to be careful where you buy. Some farmers use green, uncomposted manure to fertilise fields. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to realise that that's going to lead to contamination." E.coli 0157, in particular, is passed on from animals' faeces and can cause kidney failure or even death in people.

Although Dr Blank has not concluded research to find out how long the bacteria survive in the food production chain, he is concerned enough that he treats all his vegetables with suspicion until they are thoroughly washed.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'