Almost all tangerines, oranges in Thai supermarkets unsafe, survey shows
A recent survey conducted by two consumer groups and a magazine learned that most citrus fruits and orange juices on supermarket shelves have unsafe levels of pesticide residue.
The survey was conducted by the Thailand Consumer Council, the Thailand Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-PAN) and the Smart Buy magazine from January 3 to 30.
The group collected samples of 60 tangerines and oranges and 10 types of orange juice from wholesale markets, department stores, convenience stores and online stores.
The samples were then sent for multi-residue analysis to the TUV SUD laboratory in Italy to check for 567 residue types.
Thassanee Naenudorn, deputy director of the Thailand Consumer Council and editor of Smart Buy magazine, said 57 of the 60 oranges and tangerines sampled had unsafe levels of pesticide residue.
Only three samples were found to be relatively safe, namely:
• Green tangerine (khiew wan) from Big C Bang Yai
• Murcott orange from Gourmet Market
• Mandarin orange from online seller Su Premium Fruits
Of the 10 boxed orange juice sampled, five were found to be free of toxic residue, namely:
• Tipco Shogun
• UFC 100% orange juice
• Malee 100% tangerine juice from Mae Sin farm
• Harvey Fresh
The five samples found to be contaminated were:
• ARO 100% khiew wan tangerine juice
• Chabaa 100% sai nam phueng (honey) tangerine juice
• Doi Kham 98% orange juice
• Green Garden 100% orange juice
• Smile 100% khiew wan tangerine juice
Parokchon Usup, coordinator with Thai-PAN, said the survey found that all 41 samples of locally grown tangerines and 16 samples of imported oranges were found to have higher than safe levels of pesticide.
He also pointed out that 12 of the tangerine samples had come from farms that have won the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) standard.
Citing these findings, the consumer groups have called on the Agriculture Ministry to crack down on smugglers of illegal pesticides. It has also been urged to revamp its GAP standards so the public can be sure that products with the GAP stamp are actually safe. They also said the ministry should promote organic farming practices.
They also urged the Public Health Ministry to stringently check for pesticide in fruits at the customs checkpoints, as well as boost the safety standard for boxed orange juice to better protect the public, especially those with chronic conditions.
They also called on supermarkets and retailers to use a traceability system for the fruits they stock to better protect their customers.