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Food for thought

Date Published: 05/09/2017

A report released today by the Pesticides Action Network, Food for Thought, has found that children in England are being exposed to residues of 123 different pesticides on the fresh produce they receive through the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme (SFVS).

These include suspected endocrine disruptors which interfere with hormone systems, known carcinogens, and organophosphates that can negatively affect children’s cognitive development.

In the report PAN claim that for an additional cost of roughly 1p per child per day, or £5.6 million per year, all of the core produce given out through the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetables Scheme could be switched to organic. Not only would this better protect children’s health, it would also provide much-needed support to the British organic sector.

“Our aim is not to alarm parents but they do have a right to know what chemicals are in the food being given to their children”, said Nick Mole from PAN UK. “While we applaud the Department for Health’s efforts to get children eating more fruit and vegetables, our research shows that the produce they are being given is generally worse than on the supermarket shelves. Given how little it would cost to switch the scheme to organic, the government shouldn’t be putting our children’s health at risk when there are other options available.”

Following the report’s publication OF&G chief executive Roger Kerr said:
“Parents need good quality information about food to help them when it comes to choosing what to eat and what to feed their families.

“Organic is an option which provides families and schools with many benefits and because it is closely regulated offers clear and open information about how the food is produced.

“Eating organic means that parents can be sure their children are consuming quality food, produced with far fewer pesticides.  What’s more, they are produced in a way which ensures high welfare and positive environmental outcomes.  Support for organic food therefore not only provides a healthy option for families but also provides an enhanced natural environment for all.

“We are committed to ensuring that consumers are able to make informed choices, which is why we support reports like the one produced by PAN, and we would encourage consumers seek out the benefits that organic can offer if they are interested.”

The full list of the 123 pesticides is available on PAN UK’s website along with spreadsheets containing all other original data and the complete ‘Food for Thought’ report. Visit