More than 60% of five “popular vegetables” sold in local markets contain excessive level of harmful chemical residues, according to a testing by Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN), a non-governmental organisation working on food safety.
The finding was from recent testing on 150 samples of nine vegetables and six types of fruits collected in August from nine markets in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Pathum Thani, Ratchaburi and Songkhla, three major retailers, and four supermarkets.
Vegetables and fruits selected for testing are:
- Five popular vegetables: Khana (Chinese kale); Tua Fak Yao (long bean); Prik Dang (red chili); Bai Kaprao (basil leaves); and Kalam Pree (cabbage)
- Four popular local vegetables: Bai Bua Bok (pennywort); Cha-om (climbing wattle); Tam Lueng (ivy gourd); and Sai Bua (lotus stem)
- Six fruits: grape, papaya, banana, coconut, pineapple, and dragon fruit
Thai-PAN coordinator Prokchol Ousap told a press conference on Friday (Nov 24) that 64% of the five popular vegetables samples contained chemical residues above the maximum residue levels (MRL) limit.
For local vegetables and fruits samples, 43% and 33% of them had chemical residues exceeding the MRL limit respectively.
Ms Prokchol said the testing also found herbicide residues in up to 55% of a total of 76 vegetables and fruits samples.
Herbicides found include paraquat, which was detected in 38 samples; glyphosate (6 samples), and atrazine (4 samples).
Kingkorn Narintarakul, of BioThai, which jointly conducted the testing, said the network had already submitted the findings to relevant agencies, including the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards, the Department of Agriculture, Office of the Consumers Protection, and Consumers Protection Police Division.
The agencies vowed to look into the problem, she said.
Ms Kingkorn added that the network planned to sue the Department of Agriculture for failing to protect the consumers by allowing the use of paraquat for six more years despite a proposal by the Public Health Ministry to ban the weed killer due to its health hazards.