Coop recalls Polish onions over pesticide residue fears

Supermarket Coop has had to recall nationwide a batch of imported Polish onions, following a discovery that they contain greater volumes of pesticide residue than is permissible under European Union law.

The Food and Veterinary Office (PTA) has a duty to inform the public about possible hazards of this nature, and in fulfillment of that requirement, has announced that some onions of Polish origin, sold in bulk, were found to exceed the residue limits of two plant protection product – ie. herbicides and/or pesticides.

Kaisa Orgusaar, chief specialist at the PTA's food department, told ERR that: "The content of the plant protection agent  [fungicide and nematicide] Flupyram (one of the agents detected – ed.) can have a deleterious effect on human well-being."

"In total, more than 16 tonnes of onions have arrived in Estonia [from Poland] via a Lithuanian distributor, and these were distributed among all Coop grocery stores. At the moment, it is not yet clear whether the onions could have reached other Estonian outlets as well, but we are doing everything possible, to establish that," Orugusaar went on.

The pesticide residue found in the imported onions exceeded the maximum limit as set by the EU, meaning Coop had to start a recall process and provide the required documentation.

Consumers who have purchased imported onions from Coop stores have the right to return them and to claim a refund, Orgusaar said.

The affected stock concerns batch number 207265, on sale between July 19 and 28; these should not be consumed, Orgusaar added.

If a product that does not meet food safety requirements has reached the supermarket shelves and consequently the consumer, then a food retailer has the legal obligation to provide consumers with effective and accurate information on the reasons for the recall and disposal of the product in question. The retailer must also recall that have already been delivered to consumers, if necessary.

That onions are imported from Poland and other countries relates to conditions needed to successfully grow the plant in bulk.

Onions require drier conditions than are often the case in Estonia; drying them out post-harvest can be done, but is costly.

For this reason, most onions grown in Estonia, for instance on the shores of Peipsi järv, while often superior in quality, make for a fairly niche market and certainly not enough to sustain the supermarket sector.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Andrew Whyte

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