Home > Food & Water > Pesticides in Your Fruit

Pesticides in Your Fruit

By: Lucy Debenham BA (hons) - Updated: 6 Jun 2016 | comments*Discuss
Pesticides Fruit Organic Organic Fruit

For years, we’ve been told that in order to help maintain a healthy lifestyle, we need to incorporate at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables in our diet each day. But in the past few decades, increased demand for greater productivity and increased pressure from supermarkets to produce ‘perfect’ fruit has meant that our fruit is now addled with a cocktail of pesticides.

Ultimately, by eating the fruit, we ingest a proportion of these pesticides. So could the fruit we’re encouraged to eat actually be damaging us?

Pesticides In Fruit

Pesticides are used to deter or destroy pests that can damage fruit crops, as well as controlling pests that could potentially damage the growing environment and our health. When fruit is harvested and processed, it usually undergoes a cleaning process before being stored and shipped to retailers. However, inevitably small traces of pesticide residue can remain on the fruit.

In some cases, the residue can be reduced by peeling the fruit. However, some environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth are still concerned about the impact of using pesticides on fruit. This is for several reasons, not least because there are concerns about how the pesticide residue can affect our health, as well as the environmental cost of using the pesticides on a large scale.


The Food Standards Agency is adamant that all pesticides used on fruit are safe, and have undergone an appropriate level of testing, and research prior to commercial food production use. They also maintain that through continual surveillance and monitoring, they’re continually ensuring that pesticide residues on fruit and other foods are minimal, and at safe levels.

However, it’s worth noting that some pesticides licensed within the UK are still used abroad. The fruit is harvested and imported into the UK with traces of unlicensed pesticide residue. One such example is the pesticide phosmet. It is believed that phosmet, an organophosphate insecticide, may damage the nervous system, as well as being a suspect carcinogen. Other pesticides such as carendazim and dithiocarbamates are thought to potentially disrupt hormone function, with children being more susceptible during their early growth and development.

In 2004, a study conducted by Friends of the Earth and revealing these findings, caused a certain amount of disquiet regarding the use of pesticides. Although there are no short-term or immediate effects to consuming these pesticides, there are still concerns about the as-yet unrecorded long-term effects. The study challenged the government’s claim that levels of pesticides in fruit were safe, especially in relation to imported fruit.

Friends of the Earth made a call for the government to lower legal limits of pesticides on fruit, despite the FSA’s protestations. One of the main issues was the fact that pesticides in fruit are monitored in batches, rather than by each individual fruit. It was claimed that pesticide levels could vary significantly between individual fruits, with some fruit above the ‘safe’ legal limit.

Going Organic

The FSA maintains that peeling and washing fruit is a good hygiene practice. But since some pesticides may be absorbed into the fruit flesh, some people may feel more confident about buying organic produce.

Since 2004, organic sales have steadily increased. Public concern about the environmental impacts and health issues associated with the use of pesticides has perhaps been mirrored in the continual growth of the organic sector. Organic farming not only inhibits the use of pesticides, but actually encourages natural pest control measures through the protection of wildlife habitats and sympathetic farming practices.

Consumers have also argued that access to organically produced food, and organic fruit, is potentially a more transparent and ‘safer’ consumer experience. Many environmental and health groups alike are keen to encourage organic fruit production and consumption, as the long-term effects of exposure to pesticide residues is still unknown.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    I ordered the laminate flooring from UK Flooring Direct Limited online and fitted in March 2018.After that i noticed very…
    29 November 2018
  • Lenard
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    The person that resides in the apartment above my apartment about 2 weeks ago seems to be making something that has caused…
    24 November 2018
  • J M
    Re: Negative Effects of Sky Glow
    Honestly, this is extremely helpful to know especially because so many people in the world don’t pay attention to these things…
    26 October 2018
  • SeaSiderSeth
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hello. I'm the premises manager of a tv company in Clapham and recently Thames Water built 4 or 5 large storm drains all…
    15 October 2018
  • tolu
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hello i have a neighbor who lives behind my daughter and me he have Hogs there and this mail is excruciating it makes you…
    19 September 2018
  • Ben
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hello, we are in a new build semi detached house. We moved in at the same time as our neighbours last November. However over…
    8 September 2018
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Lou - Your Question:What can I do about local farmer spreading putrid slurry/ fertiliser over fields near me? On a warm…
    14 August 2018
  • puppy
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    There’s a house being built across the field to our house. There is a constant smell of diesel which is making me and my…
    6 August 2018
  • Lou
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    What can I do about local farmer spreading putrid slurry/ fertiliser over fields near me? On a warm summer’s evening the…
    1 August 2018
  • savita sharma
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hi twice or thrice a week my neighbour do water intake in thire silver that produce horrible smell from his house its…
    27 July 2018