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Regulatory Update: EFSA Issues Pesticide Evaluation

Posted: March 21, 2007

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a new statement regarding its evaluation of proposed temporary EU Maximum Residue Levels for pesticides. (Full text below.) Therein, EFSA details its opinion on possible health issues in relation to food and feed residue level proposals. The organization’s ultimate goal is national maximum pesticide residue level harmonization throughout the EU.

The opinion in full—in addition to annexes—are available here.

The full EFSA announcement:

EFSA has issued an opinion on the possible health risks from certain proposed residue levels of pesticides in food and feed. This is one of the first steps in the full EU harmonisation of national maximum residue levels[1] for pesticides in the Member States. MRLs that are considered safe for the population in one Member State may not necessarily be safe for the population in other countries due to different food consumption habits across Europe. An EU risk assessment of national MRLs is therefore necessary before they can be included in EU legislation in order to ensure that they do not pose unacceptable risks to consumers across Europe. EFSA has performed an initial risk assessment screening of the proposed temporary Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs)[2] based on available data provided by the European Commission. EFSA undertook model calculations which aimed to estimate the exposure of European consumers. According to the risk assessment, 92 of the 236 active substances[3] evaluated by EFSA were unlikely to present a risk to consumers. For the remaining 144 substances, the first screening could not exclude a potential consumer risk. More work will now be carried out on these substances by the Member States and the European Commission with a view to establishing temporary MRLs. EFSA is ready to provide further scientific advice to risk managers in the context of the harmonisation of temporary MRLs for pesticides. 

EU wide Maximum Residue Levels are already set for about 250 active substances (ingredient compounds used in pesticides). For the remaining substances, the EFSA evaluation is now the first step in the full harmonization of the Maximum Residue Levels for pesticides which are presently subject to different national Maximum Residue Levels in the Member States. EFSA performed an assessment of the safety of proposed temporary MRLs for 236 active substances based on model calculations which aimed to estimate the exposure of European consumers. EFSA’s exposure assessment took into account food consumption patterns across Europe and considered specific vulnerable subgroups of the population such as children and infants. More than 62.000 individual MRLs were assessed. EFSA applied a conservative screening model and identified those MRLs that are unlikely to present a risk to consumers.