Written Answers. - Fruit and Vegetable Quality Monitoring.

Brendan Howlin

Question:

127 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will outline the procedures for monitoring the quality of fruit and vegetables offered for sale to the public in retail outlets; the steps which are taken to ensure that such produce is not rendered unsafe for consumption due to pesticides or other contaminants; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

EC quality standards for fresh fruit and vegetables are implemented by inspections which are carried out on a regular basis at all stages of marketing, including retail outlets. Retailers who fail to comply with the required standards are liable for prosecution.

Statutory controls on the maximum level of pesticide residues on or in a range of fruit and vegetables for sale are also operated under EC Regulations. These regulations contain a schedule of pesticides and of the maximum residue levels permitted on or in the commodities listed. Officials of my Department inspect and take samples from consignments of both home grown and imported produce to check conformity with the regulations. In the event of an excess of pesticide residue being found, there is provision for seizure of the produce or a restriction on further sales and/or prosecution of the person engaged in the sale.