Did You Know Pesticides In Food Are Like Table Tennis Balls On The Moon?

A picture of the moon and a table tennis set

Scientists can quantify pesticides in food at incredibly low concentrations, typically in the range of 0.01 mg/kg [1]. To put this in perspective looking for a pesticide at such low concentrations would be proportionally equivalent to finding a table tennis ball on the moon*. Modern analytical techniques can allow detection at even lower levels.

But detection alone should not cause concern [1]. Regulators set maximum residue levels to guarantee correct use of pesticides and facilitate food trade. These levels are below potentially harmful values, which ensures food safety.

*Based on a similar proportionality factor of ~10-8, a pesticide residue of 0.01 mg in 1 kg of food is equivalent to a table tennis ball (4 cm diameter) on the moon (3474.8 km diameter).

[1] The 2020 European Union report on pesticide residues in food (EFSA)