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What are the standards for residues of crop protection products?

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Written by Jan-Paul de Wit| Last update: 28-12-2020

When chemical crop protection products are used, residue of the used products may remain on the treated crop. A large amount of residue on fruit and vegetable can lead to health risks for consumers. Therefore, legal residue standards for food products have been established to ensure food safety. 

Maximum Residue Limit

The legal residue standard is called MRL (Maximum Residue Limit). These values for plant protection products are set at the time they are authorised. These values have been put on an equal footing throughout the EU to facilitate international trade in food (in most cases MRLs differ internationally, take this into account when exporting a product to a country outside Europe!). An overview of the European MRLs for active substances in crop protection products can be found in the EU Pesticides database.

Control of MRL

Authorities randomly check whether horticultural products meet the statutory standards. In this way, they ensure food safety. If the residue of crop protection products in or on a product is too large, the authorities can choose to have the product removed from shops. The first step is to check whether the acceptable daily intake and/or the acute reference dose is exceeded when the product is consumed. If this is the case, authorities can have the product retrieved.

Exceedance of MRL

Moreover, the fact that the MRL is exceeded does not directly mean that the product is harmful to health. The MRL is a very conservative standard with a large safety margin where the recommended daily allowance cannot be achieved by eating one product with an MRL that is too high. The idea behind this is that a 'lover' of the product may not exceed the recommended daily intake if he or she eats more of a product than average. So, if a person consumes one product with an MRL that is too high, he or she will not reach the recommended daily intake. 

Reduce pesticide residue

You can reduce the amount of residue of crop protection products by using chemical crop protection products as little as possible and by using (if possible) more biological crop protection products and natural enemies. The amount of residue on a product also reduces when there’s a longer time between the last spraying and the moment of harvesting. 

More information about the standards for residues of crop protection products.

Do you have any questions about the standards for residues of crop protection products, or would you like advice? Then contact one of our crop protection specialists, or ask your question using the form below. We'll respond within 24 hours on working days.

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Jan-PaulAbout Jan-Paul de Wit

Jan-Paul de Wit is specialist in Integrated Pest Management. He helps and advices growers on how to improve their crops and how to fight diseases, viruses and pests. He advises on the best products to use so that they optimally match the objectives of the grower, as well as the crop, greenhouse and environment.

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