EFSA Report shows continued high compliance rate on pesticide residues

The European Food Safety Authority’s latest Annual Report on Pesticide Residues contains findings from tests carried out in 2011 on 79,000 samples – a record number – and found that 97.5% of these food products were within the maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides permitted in the EU. More pesticide residues exceeding the MRLs were found in food imported from countries outside the European Union (6.3%) than in samples originating from EU and EFTA (1.5%). The EFSA report concludes that there was no long-term risk to consumer health from dietary exposure from 99% of 171 pesticides assessed.

“This is very good news for European consumers, European farmers and our industry. It demonstrates both the current high-level skill of pesticide users and the high level of food safety that we can enjoy in Europe,” said Jean-Charles Bocquet, Director General of the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA).

The crop protection industry supports the initiative to implement a cumulative risk assessment methodology into existing regulatory frameworks but recognises that technically this presents a significant challenge for the near future. In the 2011 report, an acute risk assessment was carried out on pear samples that contained multiple pesticide residues sharing the same toxicological effects.

Said Bocquet, “We are glad to learn that only two samples out of 1,364 (0.15%) contained multiple residues which resulted in a combined exposure above the acceptable level.”

“The crop protection industry takes consumers’ concerns about pesticide residues and the multiple assessments of residues seriously. Together with local partners, we have established two pilot projects: one focusing on Mediterranean greenhouse production in Spain where we have seen a great improvement in residue management; and another on quality of fresh produce imports from Turkey, which exports produce to the EU. Through training and advisory programs, we are supporting the management of residues through the promotion of Integrated Pest Management principles and good agricultural practices.”

“We will continue working with stakeholders in order to improve results on residue management further. Food safety is not an area of competition between markets – it should be an area of cooperation,” Bocquet concluded.

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