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Customs crack down on produce with excessive pesticides

Pesticide residues were found in Chinese and Peruvian beans, Egyptian dates, Polish tomatoes, and dried chilli peppers.

Låda med frukt och grönsaker
So far this year, Customs has rejected a total of 37 import consignments. Image: CC0 /
Yle News

Finnish Customs has rejected more food products with pesticide residues by the end of October 2020 than during all of last year, according to a release issued Wednesday.

In autumn, excessive pesticide residues were found in Chinese and Peruvian beans, Egyptian dates, Polish-grown tomatoes, fresh Asian dragon fruit, as well as dried chilli peppers. Customs rejected a total of 37 imported consignments.

"A total of 20 different pesticide residues were found in the chilli peppers, which is quite exceptional as a maximum of six different pesticide residues is usually found,” said Suvi Ojanperä, head of the food chemical research division at Customs.

However, this cannot be attributed to a deterioration in product quality, authorities clarified.

"The reason is probably not the deterioration of product quality for example due to the coronavirus pandemic, but customs control has cracked down on poor quality products better," Customs product safety manager Jonna Neffling said.

Problems found mainly in products from outside EU

Authorities observed that the most problematic products usually come from far outside the EU, where the legislation on pesticides may differ. Some pesticides that are completely banned in Finland may be allowed in those countries, the release stated.

This year, problems with pesticide residue have been identified in large batches. For instance, five large batches of rice from India and Pakistan were rejected along with nine batches of oranges from Egypt and Israel.

In addition, four batches of organic products were rejected due to pesticide residue findings that violate organic legislation — products included Spanish kale, German non-alcoholic beer, Peruvian Quinoa and Indian ashwagandha powder (medicinal herbal extract).

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