A major scientific investigation by Greenpeace has revealed that traditional Chinese herbal products available in the UK are laced with a toxic cocktail of pesticide residues, many of them exceeding levels considered safe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In total, 36 samples of herbal products imported from China were collected, including chrysanthemum, wolfberry, honeysuckle, dried lily bulb, san qi, Chinese date, and rosebud. These products are popular amongst health-conscious consumers and Asian communities, and are purchased for medicinal use.
However, the independent analysis found that a majority of the samples contained a cocktail of pesticides, some of them extremely dangerous:
• 32 out of the 36 samples collected contained three or more kinds of pesticides.
• 17 out of 36 samples showed residues of pesticides classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as highly or extremely hazardous.
• 26 out of 29 European samples showed pesticide residues in quantities exceeding what European authorities consider the maximum safe level (MRLs).
The test results in the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands show that consumers are being exposed to pesticides classified as highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation. Out of the 36 samples tested, 32 samples contained three or more pesticides.
Commenting on the findings Dr Doug Parr Chief Scientist at Greenpeace UK said:
“The toxic pesticides found in these products pose a real health risk to consumers. People who use these products do so hoping to ease medical conditions and improve their health – they will be shocked to learn that along with natural herbs they have been taking they are exposing themselves to a synthetic cocktail of potentially dangerous pesticides.
The UK government and the EU must improve their testing regime for products imported from China as a matter of urgency so that users of these remedies know that they are safe.”
Research has shown that long-term exposure to pesticide residues in food can cause the toxic chemicals to accumulate inside the body. Chronic pesticide poisoning may lead to health impacts including hormone disruption and reproductive abnormalities.