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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 95-96

Reducing the level of pesticide residues in foods: World Health Organization

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication11-Oct-2017

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ed.ed_13_17

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Reducing the level of pesticide residues in foods: World Health Organization. Environ Dis 2017;2:95-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Reducing the level of pesticide residues in foods: World Health Organization. Environ Dis [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Jun 6];2:95-6. Available from: http://www.environmentmed.org/text.asp?2017/2/3/95/216535

Dear Editor,

Pesticides are the chemical products that are employed across the globe to protect crops from being destroyed by different pests.[1],[2] In today's world, more than 1000 pesticides are available in the market, and each one of them has varied properties and toxic consequences.[1] The toxicity generally manifests after it goes beyond the safe level of exposure and can present in both acute and chronic forms, including the development of malignancy and negative effects on the fertility status of the exposed individual.[1],[3] Further, people who are directly exposed to pesticides (farmers or others in neighboring areas) are more at risk, while the general population gets exposed to the residues through food and water.[1]

In fact, the toxicity is determined by a number of factors such as insecticides being more toxic than herbicides or the amount of chemical or the route of exposure.[1],[2] The bottom line is no individual should get exposed to hazardous levels of pesticides, and thus, people who are involved in its spreading should adhere to standard precautionary measures.[2] In addition, sold foods should meet the requirements of maximum permissible limits, while consumers can minimize the intake of pesticide residues either by peeling or by thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables (which can further reduce the risk of bacterial infections as well).[1],[2] Moreover, options to produce food without resorting to pesticide usage should also be explored and implemented.[1]

To protect the food consumers from the adverse effects of pesticides, the World Health Organization (WHO) aims to achieve two objectives, namely, setting maximum residue limits in food and water, which are accepted globally and to impose a ban on those pesticides which are either very toxic to humans or persist in the environment for a prolonged duration.[1],[4] The WHO and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have joined their hands to assess the risks to humans due to pesticides, both through direct exposure and through residues in food.[1],[2] Based on this systematic assessment, limits for safe intake have been set so that even if people are exposed to the recommended levels over their lifetime, no adverse effects will be reported.[1],[3] These recommended levels are used by national government and international agencies for establishing maximum residue limits for pesticides in food.[1] Further, WHO and FAO have formulated a global code of conduct on pesticide management, which seeks cooperation from different stakeholders to manage pesticides right from their production to disposal.[1]

Moreover, appropriate protective measures have been suggested to minimize the amount of exposure.[1] In fact, people involved in spreading pesticides should be protected (gloves and face masks), while those who are not directly a part of the process should stay away from the locality.[1],[2] In addition, sold or donated food products should again adhere with set pesticide limits, and consumers can further limit their exposure by peeling or washing fruit and vegetables, which simultaneously also minimizes the risk for other foodborne hazards.[1],[2] The need of the hour is to have sustained involvement of the concerned stakeholders, well supported by the appropriately designed policies and its stringent implementation, right at the grass-root level.[2],[3]

To conclude, it is high time that strict measures are taken by the concerned stakeholders to limit the levels of pesticide residues in food products and thus minimize the acute and chronic side effects attributed to pesticide exposure.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Pesticide Residues in Food - Fact Sheet; 2017. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/pesticide-residues-food/en/. [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 27].  Back to cited text no. 1
Thompson LA, Darwish WS, Ikenaka Y, Nakayama SM, Mizukawa H, Ishizuka M, et al. Organochlorine pesticide contamination of foods in Africa: Incidence and public health significance. J Vet Med Sci 2017;79:751-64.  Back to cited text no. 2
World Health Organization. Pesticide Residues in Food? Online Q and A; 2016. Available from: http://www.who.int/features/qa/87/en/. [Last accessed on 2017 Jul 26].  Back to cited text no. 3
Colnot T, Dekant W. Approaches for grouping of pesticides into cumulative assessment groups for risk assessment of pesticide residues in food. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 2017;83:89-99.  Back to cited text no. 4


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