A survey published today in the Consumer Association's (CA) Which? magazine has revealed levels of pesticide residues so high in most fruit and vegetables that people should always peel or wash the products, or buy organic.

The survey took a new look at government tests on fruit and veg conducted by the pesticides safety directorate over the past four years, and concluded that pesticide residue is a persistent problem.

In 1999, 47% of apples tested had residue, and 8% contained multiple residues, mostly organophosphates. This was still an improvement on 1998's findings that 69% contained residue and 1997's findings that 90% were tainted.

An enormous 80% of strawberries sampled in 1999 meanwhile contained residues.

Other bad offenders included the carrot, as in 1999 53% of carrot samples contained residues and 11% contained organophosphates, and celery. Similar results across all the years turned up for celery, consisting of 72% of samples containing residues and 28% with multiple residues.