Take a pen and a notebook and prepare a “non-shopping” list. You got it right: we are talking about products that often end up on our plates despite the high rate of chemical contamination in them. Perhaps, we eat these poisons every day, unaware of their origin and how they are obtained. A true insult to health. It happens because of the crisis, which has led us to evaluate the things we buy solely on the basis of their price, while neglecting quality. But also because of a real invasion of the economic market of Italian agribusiness – which should be armored – by foreign markets.
Coldiretti’s latest research based on the analysis conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2015, which is contained in its Report on the Residues of Plant Protection in Europe, provides an actual blacklist of the most polluted foods. The first place goes to Chinese broccoli that in 92% of cases contain traces of harmful chemicals. Also parsley from Vietnam with its 78% of irregularities and basil from India, which is out of the norm in 6 cases out of 10, are worrying.
The fact that China leads the chart comes as no surprise, considering that in 2015 the Asian giant was also the most frequently signaled country for irregular food that was contaminated by mycotoxins and unlawful additives and colorants. Out of a total of 2,967 alarms due to irregularities reported in Europe, as much as 386 (15%) – Coldiretti states – concerned Beijing, which basically quintupled (+ 379%) its exports of tomato paste to Italy over the same year, reaching almost 67 million kilograms in 2015 (about 10% of the national production). If excessive presence of Acetamiprid, Chlorfenapyr, Carbendazim, and Flusilazole Pyridaben was found in Chinese broccoli and Vietnamese parsley – Coldiretti goes on -, these problems are caused by substances such as Chlorpyrifos, Profenofos, Hexaconazole, Phentoate, and Flubendiamide. Indian basil, in its turn, contains Carbendazim, which is banned in Italy because it is considered carcinogenic.
In the ranking of the most contaminated products reported by Coldiretti there are also pomegranates from Egypt, which exceed the allowed limits in one case out of three (33%), but also 11% of the strawberries and 5% of the oranges out from the African country are out of the norm and reach Italy thanks to the import facilities granted by Brussels. Also chili peppers from Thailand (with a presence of 21% of irregular chemical residue) and contaminated peas from Kenya (in one case out of ten) are dangerous. Same problems also with fruits from South America, such as melons and watermelons imported from the Dominican Republic, 14% of which are out of the norm due to use of Spinosad and Cypermethrin. According to Coldiretti, also 15% of the mint coming Morocco presents irregularities. Marocco is one of the countries that were granted EU’s concession to export oranges, tangerines, strawberries, cucumbers, zucchini, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes, which brought national productions to its knees.
The agreement with Morocco is strongly contested by farmers exactly because the African country allows the use of pesticides that are banned in Europe due to the danger they represent for health. Italian agriculture – the report states – is the greenest in Europe with its 281 products with a designation of origin (PDO/PGI), a ban on the use of GMOs, and the largest number of organic farms. It is also leading the chart of world food security with the lowest amount of food products that present irregular chemical residue (0.4%). This share is almost 4 times lower than the European average (1.4%) and almost 20 times lower than in non-EU products (7.5%).