Up to half of all tested vegetables and spices imported into Switzerland from Asia have unacceptable levels of pesticides or contained traces of banned weed killers.
According to a Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) announcement on December 1, depending on the country of origin, between 20 to 53% of fresh vegetables and spices analysed failed to meet Swiss and European standards on pesticides. In total, of the close to 900 samples tested between 2012 and 2015, almost a third failed to make the grade. By comparison, only 3.2% of vegetables sourced from Switzerland have pesticide levels above the legal limit in 2014.
“The importers concerned will have to get their next shipment tested and the goods can be confiscated if they fail to meet the necessary standards,” an FSVO spokesperson told swissinfo.ch.
In terms of origin, Vietnam and Cambodia were the biggest offenders with 53% of imported vegetables from these two countries failing to pass inspection. The vegetables that were most prone to excess pesticide levels were from the cabbage family (broccoli, cabbage and Chinese cabbage) and onion family (spring onions, shallots and onions) with over 40% failing to make the grade.
In total, over 221 pesticides were detected among the exotic samples, almost half of which were in excess of the maximum allowed concentration or were banned. The banned pesticides included profénofos, dinotéfurane, méthamidophos, acéphate and hexaconazole. Around one in 25 samples tested posed a risk to the health of the consumer.