Greenpeace finds pollutants in peppers

Greenpeace finds pollutants in paprika samples: First recall of contaminated peppers at the discounter Lidl

Research by Greenpeace has shown that samples of the yellow and red sweet peppers from Lidl, Tengelmann and Netto were contaminated with high residues from the growth regulator Ethephon. Even before the announcement of the Greenpeace results, Lidl had already launched a recall campaign for "Spanish Paprika Mix" (lot number L-01-05 TUTW) on Saturday, January 15th.

According to the discounter Lidl, peppers from branches in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony are affected and must be recalled. The vegetables contain impermissibly high residues of the growth regulator Ethephon. Greenpeace purchased pepper samples in Hamburg, Cologne / Bonn, Leipzig, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt on January 8th and then had them checked by an accredited special laboratory for the investigation of pesticide residues in food. The preliminary measurement results were additionally secured in a second investigation.

Ethephon exposure of paprika mixtures at discounters The result: the highest Ethephon exposure was found in the samples from Tengelmann in Munich, Lidl in Cologne and Netto (Edeka) in Bonn, with exceeding the legal maximum level for Ethephon in three of the 29 samples were. Greenpeace therefore asked all supermarket chains to check the sold peppers immediately and recall any contaminated goods if necessary. Lidl had already launched a recall campaign for “Spanish Paprika Mix” on January 15, before the Greenpeace investigation was published, whereby only the products sold between January 10 and 13, 2011 were affected, as the company officially announced. Any paprika mixes and types of peppers that are currently still on the store shelves will not be affected by the recall, the discounter announced.

Health risks from Ethephon should not be underestimated According to the experts from Greenpeace, one of the examined paprika samples from Netto (Edeka) in Bonn even exceeded the acute reference dose (ArfD), from which a single intake could harm health - especially in children . According to the Greenpeace expert Manfred Santen, the plant growth regulator Ethephon, which is used to control biological processes such as the growth and ripening of fruits and vegetables, is by no means safe for humans. If the maximum toxic amount is overdosed, health damage such as skin irritation and mucous membrane irritation can occur and if larger amounts are consumed, Ethephon has an effect as a nerve poison. According to the Greenpeace expert, the fact that Ethephon is still used in food production is primarily due to the fact that "the peppers (...) did not turn yellow and red quickly enough in the Spanish winter". With the help of Ethephon, the producers would have helped "to be able to sell the bell pepper mix in all three colors," emphasized Santen. "Consumers recognize the contaminated peppers by their green tones," the expert continues.

Ministry of Consumer Protection warns of further risks Lidl points out that he reacted immediately in the sense of "preventive consumer protection". Both Greenpeace and the Ministry of Consumer Protection in Baden-Württemberg see this rather critically: "The pesticide self-monitoring of supermarket chains only protects consumers if the test results are published immediately and without gaps and the necessary measures are taken," emphasized the Greenpeace expert The Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Consumer Protection said that it could not be ruled out that the contaminated vegetables would also have been sold outside of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony, and that there was a risk that the Spanish paprika mix could also be found at other discounters A spokesman for the ministry said. A spokesman for the ministry explained that a comprehensive official investigation has now been initiated, the first results of which are expected in a week. (fp)

Also read:
Lidl calls back peppers: skin irritation threatens

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