ABSTRACT

In this study, chemical and microbiological contaminants were detected in fresh fruits and vegetables in peasant markets in the Department of Cundinamarca to assess food safety. At least one pesticide was detected in 63% of the samples evaluated (n = 100, including fruits and vegetables), and in 41% of these, pesticides exceeded the maximum residue limit. Within the pesticides found, 60% do not use a registry from the Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario to be applied on the crops where they were detected and are included in the toxicological categories “highly toxic” (category IB) and “moderately toxic” (category II). Heavy metals were found in 45% of the samples, with cadmium (38%) and lead (14%) being the most frequent. The pathogenic microorganisms Escherichia coli O157:H7, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Campylobacter sp. were detected in 4, 2, 1, and 0% of the samples, respectively. Factors concerning integrated crop management, contaminated inputs with chemicals and microorganisms, and the lack of hygiene in the postharvest stage favor the presence of pesticide residues, heavy metals, and the appearance of pathogenic microorganisms. The results suggest the need to strengthen the implementation of integrated management strategies that guarantee the safety of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Between 1 and 12 pesticides were detected in 63% of produce in Cundinamarca peasant markets.

  • About 50 different types of pesticides were found.

  • At least one heavy metal was present in 45% of the products.

  • Contaminating microorganisms were found in less than 4% of the samples.

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