Study on Pesticide Residues in Apple-Based Baby Food

Abstract: Apples represent the main component of most fruit-based baby food products. Since not only fruit from organic farming, but also conventionally grown fruit is used for baby food production, the occurrence of pesticide residues in the final product is of high concern. To learn more about the fate of these hazardous compounds during processing of contaminated raw material, apples containing altogether 21 pesticide residues were used for preparation of a baby food purée both in the household and at industrial scale (in the baby food production facility). Within both studies, pesticide residues were determined in raw apples as well as in final products. Intermediate product and by-product were also analysed during the industrial process. Determination of residues was performed by a sensitive multi-detection analytical method based on liquid or gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. The household procedure involved mainly the cooking of unpeeled apples, and the decrease of residues was not extensive enough for most of the studied pesticides; only residues of captan, dithianon and thiram dropped significantly (processing factors less than 0.04). On the other hand, changes in pesticide levels were substantial for all tested pesticides during apple processing in the industrial baby food production facility. The most important operation affecting the reduction of residues was removal of the by-products after pulping (rest of the peel, stem, pips etc.), while subsequent sterilisation has an insignificant effect. Also in this case, captan, dithianon and thiram were identified as pesticides with the most evident decrease of residues.

Reference: Kovacova, J., Kocourek, V., Kohoutkova, J., Lansky, M., & Hajslova, J. (2014). Production of apple-based baby food: changes in pesticide residues. Food Additives & Contaminants. Part A: Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure & Risk Assessment, 31(6), 1089-1099.