EFSA Annual Pesticide Report: Residue Compliance Rates Remain High

13 Mar 2013 --- The latest available Europe-wide testing programme of pesticides in food has found that over 97% of samples contained residue levels that fall within permissible limits, said the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

The European Union Report on Pesticide Residues in Foods also assessed dietary exposure and concluded the chemical residues on the foods analysed did not pose a long-term risk to consumer health. The evaluation of short-term dietary exposure excluded a risk to consumers from 99.6% of food samples.

The fourth annual report, published today, gives an overview of pesticide residues found in food in 2010 in the 27 EU Member States, as well as Iceland and Norway[1]. As part of this analysis, EFSA tested an innovative approach to dietary exposure known as cumulative risk assessment. In contrast to established techniques that evaluate pesticide residues individually, this approach considers the potential effects of combined exposure to a number of chemicals that have similar toxicological properties.

EFSA Pesticides Unit head Herman Fontier said: “This annual report on pesticide residues makes important recommendations for improved monitoring at national and EU level. It ensures risk managers have the most accurate and relevant information upon which to make decisions.”

Key findings:

The national programmes found that 97.2% of samples contained residues within the European legal limit– known as the maximum residue level (MRL).  The lowest MRL exceedance rates were found on foods of animal origin – with 0.1% of samples above permissible limits. MRL exceedance rates of foods imported into the EU, Norway and Iceland were more than five times higher than those of foods originating in these nations - 7.9% compared to 1.5%. MRL values for organic food[2] commodities in the EU are identical to those for non-organic foods. Analysis of 3,571 organic food samples showed an MRL exceedance rate of 0.8%.

The results of the EU-coordinated programme[3] for 2010 showed that 98.4% of samples analysed were compliant with permissible limits. MRL exceedance rates have been broadly stable over the last four years – with the percentage of samples above the legal limits ranging from 2.3% in 2007 to 1.2% in 2009.  The 2010 report found the foods with the highest percentage of samples exceeding the MRL were oats (5.3%), lettuce (3.4%), strawberries (2.8%) and peaches (1.8%).

Based on the findings of the 2010 monitoring programmes, EFSA concluded there was no long-term risk to consumer health from the pesticide residues through their diets. In assessing short-term acute exposure, the report found that a risk could not be excluded for 0.4% of samples – or 79 out of a total of 18,243. This conclusion is based on a worst-case scenario that assumed consumption of the largest portion of a food type that contains the highest residue measured of each pesticide.

In addition to the established dietary exposure evaluation, EFSA performed for the first time a cumulative risk assessment as part of the 2010 report. The main aim of the pilot programme was to assess the need for improvements in the way Member States report monitoring data. EFSA highlighted the value of this trial cumulative risk assessment in paving the way for the better use of the approach in future reports. But it also recognised the need for additional data collection by national authorities and modifications to the methodology in order to reduce the significant uncertainties found in the results.

Mr Fontier said: “Cumulative risk assessment relies on a refined analysis and understanding of the possible types of combined toxicity of chemicals in food. It requires sophisticated methodologies capable of handling and combining huge amounts of data. This is why the pilot cumulative risk assessment presented in the latest report focuses on methodology rather than results, which are inconclusive as they contain a high degree of uncertainty.”

EFSA has been working intensively on the development of these methodologies and on data collection over the last five years. This undertaking, which is also central to the Authority’s work on chemical mixtures in foods, is ongoing and will result in a wider coverage of the combined effects of pesticides residues in future reports.

The 2010 report recommends a series of measures to further improve future monitoring programmes and the enforcement of pesticide residue legislation in Europe.

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

KEY INTERVIEW: How Cosucra Rode the Rise of the Vegetable Protein Market

04 May 2015 --- Belgian company Cosucra Groupe Warcoing is no stranger to change and to keeping up with the times. With vegetable protein products and derivatives being a leading trend to look out for in 2015, according to Innova Market Insights' 2015 trends, Pisane was well ahead of the game, when in 1990, it started production of its pea protein Pisane. Product Manager Angelo Buyck talked to FoodIngredientsFirst about how the vegetable protein market has developed.

Business News

Major Update Boosts EFSA Food Consumption Database

30 Apr 2015 --- EFSA has completed a major update of its Food Consumption Database, which now includes individual dietary records from nearly 100,000 people in 23 EU Member States.

Business News

KEY INTERVIEW: Faravelli Uses A Novel Approach to Customer Communication

28 Apr 2015 --- Use of innovative multi-media communication techniques on a business-to-business model is what has set Faravelli Group apart and led to it being shortlisted to the finals of the European Business Awards this May. Faravelli, which trades in and distributes food ingredients as well as supplying the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and biochemical industries with ingredients, uses a variety of media like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to stay in touch with its customers. Dr Guido Rovati, Sales & Marketing Director of Faravelli Group spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst about how Faravelli has kept up with the times since its inception in 1926, including the opening of a new office in the US last year, and the launch of Faravelli Trading.

Food Ingredients News

KEY INTERVIEW: Whole Protein LENTEIN on the Cusp of US Launch, Europe to Follow

14 Apr 2015 --- US company Parabel has developed a proprietary growth and processing technique to extract a protein concentrate out of the Lemnoideae plant. The crop has a high level of protein (40%) and Parabel grows it with a yield per hectare that is higher than any other crop today – even higher than GM Soy. The resultant product, Lentein, is soy-, gluten- and lactose-free and non-GMO. Marketing Manager Cecilia Wittbjer spoke to FoodIngredientsFirst about this new protein ingredient.

Food Ingredients News

Aspartame Sensitivity in Self-Diagnosed "Sufferers" is a Myth, Suggests FSA Study

20 Mar 2015 --- The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the results of a study examining the risk of aspartame consumption on the public, and found that it can be consumed safely and without any need for action to protect the health of the public.

More Articles