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Food and Beverages | Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The samples imported from non-EU countries were found to have a higher MRL exceedance rate and a higher non-compliance compared to food grown within Europe

FREMONT, CA: There have been several findings of pesticides in food samples above legal limits, according to the new data published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The rate of maximum residue level (MRL) exceedances in 2020 augmented compared with previous years. It remained high for unprocessed and processed grape leaves, processed Brazil nuts, and unprocessed cumin seeds, which are not covered in unexpected EU testing. The report is based on data from national official controls by EU member states, Iceland and Norway, and consists of figures from the EU‐coordinated control programs. National control programs are risk-based programs, targeting products that are most likely to contain pesticide residues.

The number of samples dropped by 9.3 per cent, corresponding to 2019, primarily because of the pandemic. The reporting countries surveyed over 659 pesticides, with an average of 264 per sample. For 2020, 94.9 per cent of 88,141 samples that were investigated fell below the MRL, and 5.1 per cent surpassed this level, of which 3.6 per cent of the tested samples were non‐compliant after taking measurement uncertainty into account. MRLs rates were surpassed in 3.9 per cent of samples in the last few years, and 2.3 per cent initiated legal sanctions or enforcement measures.

The EU program covered several vegetables and fruits, including potatoes, onions, carrots, cauliflower, oranges, kiwi fruit, pears, dried beans, brown rice, bovine liver, rye grain, and poultry fats. For the 12,077 of the samples analyzed in this testing, 1.7 per cent surpassed the MRL, and 0.9 per cent were non‐compliant. An EFSA dietary risk assessment, as part of its investigation, indicates the sampled food items are improbable to pose a concern for consumer health. The samples imported from non-EU countries were found to have a higher MRL exceedance rate and a higher non-compliance compared to food grown within Europe.

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