Concerns about dangerous 'forever chemicals' present in produce and their potential link to cancer.

Strawberries ranked highest in contamination.

April 8th 2024.

Concerns about dangerous 'forever chemicals' present in produce and their potential link to cancer.
According to the latest government testing, strawberries are the most commonly contaminated fruit or vegetable. This discovery has raised concerns among health campaigners as it has been found that these common UK produce items are contaminated with long-lasting toxins known as 'forever chemicals'. These chemicals, also known as PFA chemicals, are often used in pesticides and have been found in various foods in 2022.

The reason for their nickname 'forever chemicals' is because they can take centuries to break down in the environment. This means that they can accumulate in the bodies of living organisms, including humans, and pose a serious health risk. Studies have linked these chemicals to severe health conditions such as kidney and testicular cancer, increased cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure in pregnant women.

In 2022, the environment department's advisory committee on pesticide residues tested over 3,300 samples of food and drink available in the UK supply chain for residues of around 401 pesticides. The results of the testing, which were analyzed by the Pesticide Action Network UK, revealed that strawberries were the worst offender with 95% of the 120 tested samples containing PFA pesticides. Grapes, with 61% of the 109 samples testing positive for PFA chemicals, came in a close second. Other produce items that were found to be regularly contaminated include cherries, spinach, and tomatoes.

Interestingly, while 56.4% of the samples tested contained a residue of pesticides, they were below the maximum residue level allowed by law. Only 1.8% of the samples had a pesticide residue above this legal level. The UK's Health and Safety Executive is responsible for conducting a risk assessment of all pesticide residues found in the testing program and taking further action if any health risks are identified.

However, the Pesticide Action Network UK argues that maximum residue levels do not guarantee the safety of the quantity of pesticide found in the food. They also argue that these levels do not take into account other potential sources of PFA exposure, such as plastic food packaging, drinking water, and household products. Nick Mole, from Pan UK, expressed his concern over the fact that UK consumers have no choice but to ingest these chemicals, which may remain in their bodies for a long time. He also urged the government to take action by banning the use of 25 PFA pesticides currently in use in Britain, six of which are classified as 'highly hazardous'.

The organisation is also calling for increased support for farmers to help them transition to safer and more sustainable alternatives to chemical pesticides. They believe that getting rid of PFA pesticides would be a massive win for consumers, farmers, and the environment. Meanwhile, other trending news includes the experience of driving 285 miles to The Lakes in an electric car, experts warning about the lack of privacy on iPhones, and an Italian volcano behaving strangely.

According to Dr Shubhi Sharma from Chem Trust, who campaigns for the protection of humans and animals from harmful chemicals, PFAs are a group of human-made chemicals that did not even exist a century ago. Yet, they have now contaminated every corner of the planet. She points out that no one has given their consent to be exposed to these harmful chemicals and that we now have to live with their toxic legacy for decades to come. She believes that the least we can do is to stop adding to this toxic burden by banning the use of PFAs as a group.

In response to these concerns, a spokesperson from Defra stated that strict limits are set on pesticide residue levels in both food and animal feed. These limits are meant to protect public health and are set below the safe level for human consumption. They apply to both food produced in the UK and those imported from other countries, ensuring the safety of all consumers.

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