As every year with the approach of Ramadan, Algerian dates are singled out by Moroccan consumers who accuse them of containing carcinogenic pesticide residues.
What could be better, in the fruit stalls of stores, than the Deglet Nour ? This date is mainly produced in two regions of Algeria, in the Zibans and Oued Righ, and in Tunisia. And inevitably, as the month of Ramadan approaches, the star of dates is at the center of all attention. If Rabat imports Tunisian dates - more than 30 tons per season - Algerian dates are also marketed, particularly a few days before the start of Ramadan, Algiers being one of the five largest date producers in the world.
And every year, from now on, the Deglet Nour fuels a controversy which shows how strong the tensions between Algeria and Morocco are: in March 2022, Moroccan activists had claimed that Algerian dates contained toxic substances, due to radioactive pollution linked to French nuclear tests in the 1960s.
A year later, the atmosphere has not changed: it is once again the carcinogenic nature of dates from Algeria that is highlighted. Rumors that risk causing panic in Moroccan supermarkets. So much so that the Moroccan Federation of Consumer Rights had to launch a series of tests on date samples, “in order to avoid any inaccuracies” indicated the federation.
Conclusive tests for Algerian dates
The organization ensures that this sample was taken "randomly, at the Casablanca wholesale market" and recalls that "the dates are packaged and carry all the necessary data (type, source, importer, date of validity, etc.)" for ensure its quality.
The federation's conclusions are unanimous: dates imported from Algeria, like those from Saudi Arabia or Tunisia, comply with international standards in terms of the quantity of authorized pesticide residues.
Last September, the Algerian Ministry of Commerce indicated that "pesticides used to combat plant or animal pests in crops are approved and listed on the Index of phytosanitary products for agricultural use adopted by the National Intersectoral Approval Commission ( Agriculture, Commerce, Health…)” and that “thousands of tons of dates, all varieties combined, will be exported without any problem” in 2023.
Finally, parasites were reportedly detected in dates imported from the United Arab Emirates. But as the Moroccan Federation of Consumer Rights points out, the rumors about carcinogenic pesticide residues are totally unfounded.