Newsletter -SAFETY OF OUR FOODS AND LIFE-
January 2002, No.153
On December 13, an Environmental / Consumer NGO found pesticide residue in bread labeled "produced with organic flour." This bread was produced by the First Baking Co. Ltd.(Daiichi-ya- sei-pan, Tokyo, Japan.) The First Baking Co. Ltd. has begun an investigation.
Japan Offspring Fund, a consumer group in Tokyo, Japan, bought a loaf of bread, "SHOKU PAN, Natural Bread" in November 2001 in Saitama and asked for a pesticide residue analysis by the Japan Food Research Laboratories. The residue found, chlorpyrifos-methyl, was 0.005ppm.
There is no pesticide residue level set for chlorpyrifos-methyl in Japan. However, at the international level, pesticide residue of chlorpyrifos-methyl for wheat is 10 ppm and for flour is 2 ppm.
The list of ingredients of this product says "flour (organic)," and the packaging says "produced with organic flour."
According to the First Baking Co. Ltd., the flour is from Australia and is certified by two organic certification organizations, Biological Farmers of Australia Cooperative Ltd. (BFA, Australia) and International Certification Service Japan (ICS Japan, Kanagawa). Both are registered with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry.
The First Baking Co. Ltd. said, "When we bought the flour, we received organic certification. So we are surprised at the result. We began an investigation, and will decide how to deal with it." ICS Japan said, "If this is true, we will investigate soon."
Even if the wheat is produced organically, if a producer uses pesticides after harvesting, there will be a lot of pesticide residues. We found that bread produced from organic flour contained chlorpyrifos-methyl, an organophosphorus chemical that has an endocrine disrupting effect and neurotoxicity. The detected amount was 5ppb (analysis by Japan Food@Research Laboratories).
When we investigated ordinary bread two years ago, we found 1.8ppb. Thus, the organic bread included 3 times higher residue than ordinary bread.
The flour used for this bread was from Australia and certified by two organic certification agencies, ICS Japan (International Certification Service) and BFA (Biological Farmers of Australia Cooperative Limited). Both organic certification organizations are registered with the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry. The company that produced the bread by using flour from these two agencies is the First Baking Co. Ltd. (Daiichi-ya-sei-pan, Tokyo, Japan). This company ended up having had to stop producing and selling the same product.
The Japan Offspring Fund also tested other organic flours. We bought five flours in three cities in the US, and one in on Australian city. Among the 6 organic flours, chlorpyrifos-methyl of 240 ppb was found from the one bought in Australia. This Australian flour was certified by BFA, the same certification agency which certified the flour of the First Baking, Co, Ltd..
"Organically produced" does not mean there are no pesticide residues. If the residue is less than 5% of the pesticide residue level decided for conventional products, it is legal. However, the use of post-harvest pesticide is not allowed for organic products. Since the@chlorpyrifos-methyl is only used as a post harvest pesticide, detection of even a small amount of this pesticide means the illegality of the product.
There are still fraudulent organic products in Japan. For consumer confidence in organic food, it is important for certification agencies to conduct stricter organic inspections. It is also important that MAFF monitors registered organic certification organizations more strictly according to the Japan Agriculture Standard.
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