EFSA publishes its first report on pesticide residues in food

Source of Article:  http://www.ift.org/news_bin/news/news_home.shtml

7/15/2009-The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published its first “Annual Report on Pesticide Residues,” which provides an overview on the pesticide residues in food observed throughout the European Union (EU) during 2007 and assesses the exposure of consumers through their diets. The report showed that the majority of the samples complied with the legal maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides and made a series of recommendations to further improve the collection of data required for pesticide exposure assessment. The report, prepared by EFSA’s Pesticide Risk Assessment Peer Review Unit, said that 96% of the samples analyzed were compliant with the legal MRLs and 4% exceeded them, compared to 5% in 2006. In total, more than 74,000 samples of nearly 350 different types of food were analyzed for pesticide residues in 2007.

In assessing chronic (long-term) consumer exposure, EFSA followed a cautious approach, using conservative assumptions which overestimate exposure. For all evaluated pesticides, except one (diazinon), the chronic exposure did not raise concerns for consumer health. It is worth noting that since Dec. 2007 all authorizations concerning this substance have been withdrawn and MRLs have been lowered. The assessment of acute (short-term) exposure was also based on worst-case scenarios. Thus, estimates took into consideration high food consumption combined with the highest residue observed in the 2007 EU monitoring program. Such critical intake cases are in reality very unlikely to occur. Assuming this scenario was to occur, a potential consumer risk could not be excluded for some of the results concerning 52 pesticide/commodity combinations, many of which have already been addressed by withdrawing authorizations or by lowering MRLs.

EFSA provided a series of recommendations for future monitoring programs on pesticide residues, such as amending the reporting format to ensure more detailed results which will allow more accurate exposure assessment. These improvements will help better inform and support risk managers in regulating the safe use of pesticides.

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