Mixtures of low level pesticides unlikely to form hazardous 'cocktail'
Tuesday 15 October 2002
Health risk arising from mixtures of low-level pesticides in foods – the so-called cocktail effect – is likely to be small, according to the independent Committee on Toxicity (COT).
Children and pregnant or nursing women are also unlikely to be any more vulnerable than the general population to the cocktail effect, the COT adds in a report published today.
However, the report notes that the body of evidence in the area is limited, and it is possible that some interactions of chemicals are not readily predictable.
Before drawing up the report, the COT's working group – WiGRAMP – conducted a 20-month assessment of existing scientific information and data and considered any implications for the risk assessment of pesticides and veterinary medicines used in agriculture.
Professor Frank Woods, Chair of the WiGRAMP and previous Chair of COT, said that the working group concluded that ‘there is only a very small risk to human health of the “cocktail effect” of pesticides and veterinary medicines’.
In order to reduce the risk further, the working group has made a number of recommendations to the Food Standards Agency and other bodies responsible for pesticides and veterinary medicines.
The Agency, working with the Pesticides Safety Directorate, Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Health and Safety Directorate, will be publishing an Action Plan for carrying out the recommendations of the report in the near future.
Additionally, a new research programme is being established to take forward specific research recommendations made by the COT. This will include steps aimed at minimising pesticide residues in food, in line with the policy agreed by the Agency's Board at its June 2002 meeting.