The environmental group Greenpeace maintains that fruit and vegetables sold in German supermarkets have high levels of pesticide contamination and are not safe.
It looks so good, but is it good for you?
Greenpeace has shaken up consumers and shopkeepers in Germany by publicizing the results of tests carried out on store-bought produce. In its most recent report, the non-profit environmental organization announced on Friday that every fourth grape sold in German supermarkets possessed pesticide residue that exceeded the levels allowed by law. The group also found high levels of pesticides in lettuce, mangos, kiwis, zucchini and chili powder it had randomly tested.
"It's a scandal! The food trade repeatedly puts contaminated fruit and vegetables on the market, some of which should not allowed to be sold due to exceeded limits," said Greenpeace agricultural expert Eckehard Niemann.
This is only the latest revelation that's come from analyses that Greenpeace commissioned from a "recognized" lab between June and August. Days earlier it announced that one-third of all bell peppers bought in German supermarkets were tainted, some of which it said had contamination at 63 times more than the legally permissible level.
Previously Greenpeace had drawn attention by protesting in front of the Berlin department store KaDeWe, renowned for its gourmet food department, after the environmental group claimed to have discovered contaminated produce there. KaDeWe removed the items from the sales floor, a spokeswoman said, and assured the public that all the food it sold was tested by an independent food institute and the local authorities.
Targeting individual companies
The German Food Industry Association has condemned Greenpeace's actions. It stressed that the food industry carried out stringent controls to ensure quality as prescribed by law. In response to the KaDeWe protest, the association said Greenpeace was discrediting the use of genetic engineering in the food sector "without factual justification" and targeting individual companies to pillory.
The environmental organization, however, seems to have garnered the trust of many Germans. Despite the country's poor economic situation, 522,000 people donated money to the German branch of the international NGO in 2002, 11,600 more than the previous year, the organization reported.