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Dangerous Pesticides Found in All Oranges Tested

By December 18, 2005

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orangeslice.jpg Before you slip an orange into your child’s Christmas stocking, or zest an orange peel to spice up your mince pie or cranberry sauce this Christmas, consider an official government report from the United Kingdom that suggests this popular citrus fruit should come with a warning label.

Photo courtesy of Jason Cangialosi

According to The Independent, official monitoring by the Government Pesticides Residues Committee in the United Kingdom found dangerous pesticides in every orange examined. Many of the pesticides found in the oranges are suspected of causing cancer and other serious health effects ranging from damage to infants’ nervous and reproductive systems to vomiting and diarrhea in older children and adults.

About half of the pesticides found in oranges are banned for use in Britain, and more than a third were at levels that exceed danger levels established by the European Union and the U.K. Some of the pesticides found in the oranges tested are classified by the World Health Organization as “highly hazardous” or “moderately hazardous” for children under 14.

Six suspected carcinogens and six possible “gender-bender” chemicals were found in the oranges in various combinations. One orange tested contained seven different pesticides.

Despite all of this evidence, the Government Pesticides Residues Committee issued a statement saying that "no adverse health effects were anticipated" from oranges contaminated with concentrations of pesticides that exceed the legal limits.

But the Pesticides Action Committee (PAC) pointed out that government officials reached their conclusion by assuming that people don’t eat much of the orange peel, where the poisonous chemicals concentrate.

"Think how much of the peel we use in cooking, particularly at Christmas," the PAC said in a statement. "This is one surprise in the Christmas pudding that we can all do without."


October 30, 2007 at 3:57 pm
(1) Jos says:

I am just now seeing this article that was written in 2005. Are the pesticides still being used in the oranges today? (2007) Or have they been banned from being used on oranges? Please let me know ecause we eat oranges regularly in the USA.

December 4, 2007 at 11:56 am
(2) Bonnie says:

And where are these oranges grown that they have so many toxic chemicals in them? We need the whole story; not just half of it. Thank you!

February 20, 2008 at 11:47 pm
(3) BAG says:

Last year my husband and I purchased some bag of oranges and we both got little ill. Nothing serious I hope. Then again this next winter we purchased another bag of oranges from Kroger. They are very good. We ate one or two each a day. After 3-5 days we both were having side pains diahrea etc. We stopped and our illness stopped. So a few days later my husband found one a lonely orange and surprise he got sick again that very evening. ???”????

January 15, 2009 at 12:51 am
(4) Ryan says:

Eat Organic food. Not only are pesticides strictly forbidden in Organic farming, but (in the US at least) soil in which Organic food is grown must be cleansed for no less than 3 years before the food grown there receives the USDA certification.

December 15, 2009 at 4:01 pm
(5) Joy says:

I would suggest at the very least to ‘WASH’ all oranges by scrubbing them as you would a potato before consuming. Any germs or pesticides that remain on the outside of the orange by the time you buy it will be consumed by you. Think about all of the handling it has gone through before it gets to you?? It is the same as with any fruit, if you handle the outside first, then touch the inside of the fruit before putting it in your mouth, the potential for getting sick is there, … big time.
WASH everything before consumption, even oranges that are wrapped … they’ve put on a lot of miles before they got to you.
Wash all fruit and veggies, including bananas, melons, apples, kiwi, grapefruit, even pineapple … ALL. The germs on the outside will be drawn down to the inside by the knife you cut it with or by handling the outside then the inside with your own hands … wash FIRST!
It’s your biggest defense against illness causing bacteria.
Now, enjoy your fruit … just wash it first.
Using a bit of simple white vinegar and water will suffice.

December 15, 2009 at 9:32 pm
(6) nell says:

Is this why orange pealing heated in water and put on fire ant beds it seams to kill the ants . Never thought it could be laced with poison. wow!!

December 17, 2009 at 6:07 am
(7) guidoLamoto says:

Nell- the natural oils in the skin of the fruit evolved to serve as pesticides to protect the fruit. That’s what’s effective on the ants. Cinnamon is even better.
-The artificial insecticides are dosed to be poisonous on 150ugm insects- not a drop in the ocean to a 150kg human- about a million times too weak. (And who eats the skin?)
-The artificial herbicides attack enzyme systems that animals don’t even have.
-This is a another Chicken-Little-the-sky-is-falling! problem.

December 24, 2009 at 3:49 pm
(8) Beth says:

Yep, that “free trade” is working. Hopefully we will all survive it.

December 13, 2011 at 8:18 am
(9) tantantara says:

@guidoLamoto (your comments are misleading & poorly informed)
You cannot assume that the pesticide dosage required to kill an insect is not toxic or harmful to people. Dose can be cumulative; some substances are dangerous in minute amounts. In checks, fruit is regularly found that exceeds “safe” limits, or that has been treated with substances banned in the country of sale.
Secondly, where a variety of different chemicals have been used, there may be interactions or synergistic effects. This is a field where insufficient research has been done.
Thirdly, there are plenty of herbicides and fungicides that one would not wish to consume, even in small amounts.
If you plan to use the peel, buy organic. Wash all fruit, including organic.

A note on organic produce and pesticides – organic does not mean there are no “pesticides”; it means only approved organic agents. Organic production uses natural substances for pest control – e.g. pyrethrum, copper compounds etc. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t mean it’s not toxic.
And finally, in answer to “who eats the peel…?”. Anyone who cooks or flavours their own food; and everyone who buys commercial packaged products from manufacturers, who process peel, or include it in their products.
Educate yourselves about what your food contains.

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