Thiruvananthapuram: The Chief Minister of state, Oommen Chandy ordered food safety officials to take stern steps to control sale of fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticide content. The CM was speaking at a meeting of senior officials of health and agriculture departments on Tuesday.
The food safety department has now decided to conduct random sampling of fruits and vegetables at markets, check-posts and farms.
Besides neighbouring states, local farms too are now engaged in indiscriminate use of pesticides. Fruits and vegetables grown in ‘organic’ farms too have high content of pesticides, reveals a study by the food safety department. If fact, the study pointed out that Horticorp products too are not free of pesticide content.
Of the 10 varieties of vegetables and fruits taken for analysis, apple and amaranthus showed higher pesticide content. Sources with the food safety department said the samples of apples were collected from Horticorp.
“The apples contained higher-than-permissible levels of chlorpyrifos. Amaranthus collected from a farm in Kuravankonam, belonging to a new organic food establishment based in Thiruvananthapuram, has high content of clothianidin, an insecticide,” an official said.
Other vegetables analyzed were cabbage, cowpea, brinjal, beetroot, bitter gourd, ivy gourd, taro and green chilli. “The labs informed us that pesticide content was within permissible level in these samples,” the official said.
The food safety officials had collected the samples from Horticorp in the wake of complaints from users.
Chandy also asked the officials to strengthen field inspection to check pesticide levels. “The results of inspection must be informed to the public. Consumers must be alerted against using such vegetables. There must also be inspections at places from where the vegetables are procured for sale and at check-posts,” he added.
Health minister V S Sivakumar, minister for agriculture K P Mohanan and food safety commissioner T V Anupama attended the meeting.