Official tests have confirmed free fruit and vegetables provided by the government to young schoolchildren in Devon and across the country usually contain the residues of multiple pesticides.

Since 2004, the Department of Health (DoH) has sought to promote healthy eating by providing one piece of fruit or vegetable every school day to children aged four to six years in England.

The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS) reaches about 2.3 million children in 16,300 schools and costs about £40m a year.

The DoH commissions testing of pesticide residues each term and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) collated the results from 2005 to 2016. It found that 84 per cent of the 2,238 items tested contained at least one pesticide and 66 per cent contained multiple residues, with as many as 13 different chemicals in extreme cases.

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