Chemicals in our food

BRUSSELS – Food in Europe, and especially in Greece, contains high levels of agricultural chemicals, according to a report by the European Commission. A survey conducted in 2000 showed that around one third of the fruit and vegetables in Greece contain residues of up to 200 chemicals. More disquieting is the news that the levels of these chemicals in a considerable percentage of the samples were above the safety limits stipulated by the Commission. The survey was conducted at European and national levels. In the first part, 173 samples of fruit and vegetables were tested. Of these, 20 percent contained residues of a wide range of agricultural chemicals, while 7 percent contained residues of at least one of those chemicals in quantities that exceeded the safety limit. The results of the national survey were even more alarming. Of 1,633 samples, 1,472 were of fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, a third of which were imported and 161 were packaged products. The results were discouraging. Six percent of the fresh and frozen products contained residues exceeding the safety limit, while another 30.2 percent contained residues at or below the limit, and 63.8 percent were clear of any traces of agricultural chemical residues. Of the packaged products, 144 were virgin olive oil and 14 were must and vine leaves. Altogether, 65.2 percent contained agricultural chemical residues, with 2.5 percent containing residues in excess of the permitted level. The samples were taken at points where imported goods enter the country, in wholesale and retail outlets and on farms. A 50-year-old woman who killed her mother after repeatedly attacking her with a knife and then an axe nearly two years ago in their house in Peristeri was yesterday sentenced to eight years in jail by an Athens court. A 10-year sentence was reduced after the court acknowledged that Eufrosyni Arvanitaki had acted in rage over long-standing differences with her mother Maria Hadzistamatiou, 79. Arvanitaki – who grew up in institutions and was moved to a reformatory so her mother could cohabit with a lover – claims her mother drove her to prostitution and alcoholism.