Campaigners have found over 100 different pesticides on the fruit and vegetables supplied to schools by the department of health.
Under the department of health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS), every child aged four to six attending a state-funded infant, primary or special school in England, is entitled to receive a free piece of fruit or vegetable each school day.
However, the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN-UK) which argues there are ‘unacceptable levels’ of pesticides present in the food provided through the SFVS.
The report, entitled Food for Thought, said residues of 123 different pesticides were found, some of which are linked to serious health problems such as cancer and disruption of the hormone system.
PAN-UK also found the levels of residues contained on SFVS produce are higher than those in produce tested under the national residue testing scheme, i.e. the mainstream produce found on supermarket shelves.
In response, a department of health spokesperson said: ‘Fruit and vegetables supplied through the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme follow the same safety and quality legislation as all other fruit and vegetables supplied for consumption in the UK.
‘Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) are set significantly below a level that could represent a risk to health, with the most sensitive individuals in the population taken into consideration.
‘On the rare occasions when an MRL is exceeded, our thorough surveillance system detects it and the Food Standards Authority take the necessary action to guarantee safety.’
For more on pesticides read our feature, 'The cost of glyphosate-based weed killers.'