Toxic chemicals have been found in fruit and veg given to millions of schoolchildren by the Government. Official tests revealed 84% of apples, bananas, carrots, pears, satsumas, tomatoes and raisins destined for four to six-year-olds contained residues of one or more pesticides.

Two million kids get free fruit every year as part of a £40million Government drive to encourage healthy eating. But experts discovered 66% of over 2,000 samples of fruit and veg analysed had traces of multiple chemicals.

Raisins were the worst performing with 100% of samples testing positive for residues of multiple pesticides. A damning report by Pesticide Action Network UK, based on official Government figures, called on ministers “to do more to protect children from pesticides”. The 16-page dossier warned: “Children in England are being exposed to a cocktail of pesticide residues in the fresh produce they receive through the Department of Health’s School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS).

“These pesticides have documented potential to harm human health, especially the health of young children who are particularly vulnerable to their impacts.”

The free produce handed to youngsters was far more likely to contain pesticides than those in supermarkets, corner shops and markets. The report added: “The produce being provided to children through the scheme generally contains more pesticide residues than their mainstream equivalents. For example, in 2015, 90% of SFVS apples given out in schools contained the residues of multiple pesticides, while for conventional apples found on the supermarket shelves this figure was just under 60%.”