PCA Concerned about Pesticide Residue on Imported Strawberries


The Pesticides Control Authority (PCA) is reporting that tests on imported strawberries continue to reveal some form of pesticide residue.
“We did 23 samples this year and again we found two samples of strawberries with pesticide residue. As far as we are concerned anything that is over one milligram per kilogram is unacceptable,” the Registrar of the PCA, Hyacinth Chin-Sue Walters said, pointing out that the residue was from the fungicide, Captan.
Speaking at a JIS Think Tank session on October 3, she informed that strawberries were definitely a problem because of “unacceptable” levels of chemical residue kept reoccurring. Last year three consecutive tests on the fruits revealed similar results.
The Registrar recommended that if the possibility of having pesticide residue on imported strawberries is high, then the public is to avoid them.
“If every sample we take of strawberry that comes into Jamaica consistently has chemical residue levels, then do not eat it if you do not want to expose yourself [to harm],” she warned.
For the most part, the other samples apart from a sample of pear were deemed safe during testing. “We even did fish coming out of Guyana because we suspected that maybe it would have had residue of persistent pesticide, but we found none,” the Registrar pointed out.
Other samples conducted this year included fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, sweet peppers, cauliflower, lettuce and grapes.
The Registrar said the PCA was endeavouring to make the public more aware about the problem however, she acknowledged that there was need for more work to be done in this area.
“There is a draft regulation that we really need to get in place to deal with it. We do not have the regulation that establishes a national standard. We are still awaiting that,” she pointed out.
“We tell the importer about the problem and make up a lot of noise but they have not felt it in their pockets yet so they are just watching,” she further lamented.
In addition to the regulations, she said that there would be a need to improve the laboratory capabilities to handle a much larger scope of sampling. “Our laboratory [at the University of the West Indies, Mona] needs to be beefed up,” she said.
Mrs. Chin-Sue Walters also said that once the ‘one stop shop’, which will house entities involved in inspecting agricultural produce at the port, was in place, along with the electronic system, then the level of information required to keep a track of the offending parties would be available.
“You can target the activity of importer and exporter more. Right now we are shooting in the dark as we go and pick up a sample and test for the residue, but we do not have enough information to target the future shipments of that person and country. This is what the other countries do. They are able to say to (certain) shippers that they will not accept anything more from them unless they test everything sent,” she said.
As for local produce, the Registrar said that farmers, especially those preparing produce for export, were very aware and were testing their goods for chemical residue. “A lot of these samples are taken privately sent to the UWI (University of the West Indies) lab, especially those canned for export,” he said.

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