The National Office for Food Safety (ONSSA) has been actively involved in the warnings issued by the Spanish competent authorities regarding the presence of an unauthorized pesticide in high quantities in a batch of red Moroccan watermelons. This pesticide is known as ” methomyl“, and the European Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) has been called upon to investigate further suspicious shipments of watermelons.
Following the widespread dissemination of this information in the Spanish media, which criticized the compliance of this batch of products with health standards, MoroccoLatestNews contacted ONSSA. An internal source of the Office confirmed having been informed beforehand by the RASFF system of the European Union concerning the shipment of red watermelons exported from Morocco to Spain. Laboratory analyzes revealed a high concentration of “methomyl”.
It should be emphasized that this is an isolated case of watermelons exceeding the limits allowed by the European Union, and not a generalized practice for all exports to this market. Furthermore, it was mentioned that the use of “methomyl” is allowed in other countries, but under different maximum residue limits (MRLs), such as 1 mg/kg in Japan, 0.2 mg/kg in the United States and 0.1 mg/kg according to the food code.
The source also informed that ONSSA had taken strict measures by prohibiting the use of “methomyl” in all crops from September 26, 2022. Following this notification, the Office carried out in-depth investigations, making it possible to identify the field concerned and to trace the shipment of watermelons in question.
Punitive actions have been taken against violators, including the suspension of the sanitary license of the packaging unit involved and the suspension of the license of the exporter responsible for the shipment. In addition, investigations are underway to identify the marketing chain of the pesticide in question, as the source pointed out.
In terms of food surveillance, it was noted that since the beginning of 2023, only five notifications concerning fruits and vegetables from Morocco have been registered in the RASFF system, out of a total of 497 notifications issued by this system concerning vegetables and fruits imported by Europe from all countries.
In terms of precautions, the same source highlighted the efforts of ONSSA in 2023, having taken 8,000 samples of food products marketed in Morocco, compared to only 700 samples in 2018. It is interesting to note that European Union countries carry out an average of 4,500 samples per year.
These measures demonstrate ONSSA’s commitment to guarantee the safety of food products in Morocco and to ensure compliance with international standards in terms of the quality of exported products.