Pesticide residues have been found in fruit-based soft drinks at levels "dramatically exceeding" the EU safety standard for drinking water, a new study says.

Average pesticide residues found in UK soft drinks were more than 34 times higher than the maximum residue level allowed by the EU in drinking water, researchers have said.

The study, which is published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, was completed by a team at the University of Jae´n in Spain.

No maximum residue limit exists specifically for soft drinks.

Researchers found that Spain and the UK were the worst offenders for pesticide residues.

A spokesperson for the British Soft Drinks Association said today (22 December): "Any residual levels of pesticides in food and drink products in the UK are strictly controlled at very low levels to ensure there is no concern for human health." 

She added: "The independent Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) conducts regular and careful monitoring to make sure that these levels are observed. Findings from the PRC confirm that fruit-based soft drinks are safe to drink."