More than 97% of food samples evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) contain pesticide residue levels that fall within legal limits, with just under 55% of samples free of detectable traces of these chemicals.

The findings are part of EFSA’s 2013 annual report on pesticide residues in food, which includes the results for almost 81,000 food samples from 27 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway.

The majority of samples (68.2%) were taken from food originating in Europe, with 27.7% coming from food imported from third countries.

The percentage of samples from third countries exceeding legal limits was higher (5.7%) than for EU countries (1.4%). However, exceedance rates for imported food have fallen by nearly two percentage points (from 7.5%) since 2012.

According to the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) today’s the report confirms once again that Europe’s food supply is among the safest in the world.

It says Europeans today enjoy a plentiful supply of fresh fruits and vegetables all year round thanks to modern solutions that support productive, competitive and sustainable agriculture.

“This is more good news for Europe’s consumers, farmers, retailers, agricultural advisers, authorities and the crop protection industry”, said Jean-Charles Bocquet, Director General of the EPCA .

“The report from EFSA confirms that food in Europe is safe. These results once again should foster consumers’ trust in the food they buy and in the whole European supply chain,” he said.

“Year after year we welcome these results as a testament to the joint effort made by the farmers and industry in sharing and implementing best practices. They demonstrate both the current high-level skill of pesticide users and the high level of food safety that we continue to see in Europe,” Bocquet said.

“As an industry we are always working to improve on and learn from these results. That’s why we have set up a dedicated project on pesticide residue management that focuses on training and advisory programs. These help reduce residues by promoting Integrated Pest Management principles and good agricultural practices in the EU and also outside of the EU.”