Thai-Pan takes government to court

Thai-Pan takes government to court

A food safety advocacy group will file negligence and dereliction of duty complaints against the Department of Agriculture, after finding more than half the fruit and vegetables awarded a government "Q mark" for quality had harmful residue levels.

The Thai-Pesticide Alert Network (Thai-Pan) will file the complaint with the Administrative Court early next month, network coordinator Prokchol Ousap said yesterday.

"There was a failure to control quality standards of 'Q mark' produce," Ms Prokchol said.

Tests conducted by Thai-Pan over the past three years found harmful residue levels in a lot of produce, she said.

Residue and chemicals that are now banned and ones that have not even been registered yet were also found in many fruit and vegetables, she added.

These could be dangerous, she said, and it is the Department of Agriculture's job to ensure "Q mark" produce does not have them.

"There should be much higher standards as well as a clear indication of how the department intends to go about solving this problem," Ms Prokchol said.

Consumers must have easy access to information about chemicals that might be in their food and be assured of food safety, said Kingkorn Narintarakul Na Ayutdhaya, deputy director of the BioThai Foundation.

Pan-Thai conducted tests on fruit and vegetables for four consecutive years and on rice for one year, to find out if food products were safe, she said.

"By pointing to the problem, we want to be a part of the solution. However, a problem can't be solved if the problem isn't acknowledged," she argued.

Following the release of the test results on May 4, retailers have responded positively to the findings, she said.

They vowed to look at the supply chain and find out where the chemicals came into contact with the tainted produce.

State agencies have been less cooperative, Ms Kingkorn said. The problem can't be solved on a case-by-case basis, by going after producers one after the other. The problem is structural and the whole system needs to be reviewed, she added.

A judicial inquiry will help uncover the truth about chemical levels in food, she said.

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