The Food Standards Agency (FSA) last year asked the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP), independent scientific advisers on pesticides, to consider whether longstanding public advice on washing or peeling fruit and vegetables for hygiene reasons was also necessary in relation to pesticides.

The ACP has concluded that washing or peeling fruit and vegetables is not required as a protection against pesticide residues.

However, the FSA advises that it is sensible to wash fruit and vegetables before eating for reasons of general food hygiene, but considers that as a matter of principle, safe use of a pesticide should not be dependent on such action by consumers. The Agency would not agree to the use of any pesticide if fruit or vegetables treated with it would have to be washed or peeled for safety reasons.

The FSA wants to see pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables reduced to their lowest possible level. If fruit and vegetables do contain any residues, consumers can be confident that they are only present at levels well below those that might be harmful to health.