CODEX MAXIMUM RESIDUE LIMITS FOR PESTICIDES

This data base contains Codex Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides and Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission up to and including its Twenty-second Session (June 1997). Explanatory notes on the Tables, defintions of terms used, and information about the basis for the establishment of Codex Maximum Residue Limits are given below.

Contents:


General Notes:

In the data base a user can obtain information on Codex Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) and Codex Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits (EMRLs) both for a pesticide or certain pesticides, and for a commodity or a group of commodities. Names and definitions of commodities are found in the Codex Classification of Foods and Animal Feeds (Section 2 of Codex Alimentarius, Second Edition, Volume 2 (1993)).

The foods listed shall not contain more than the MRL or EMRL (in mg/kg) of the pesticide residue (defined in each individual case in the definition of residue) at (a) the point of entry into a country or (b) at the point of entry into trade channels within a country. This maximum limit shall not be exceeded at any time thereafter.

The MRLs and EMRLs apply to the residue content of the final sample representative of the lot and of the portion of commodities which is analyzed.


Notes on Symbols used against MRLs and EMRLs

(*)

At or about the limit of determination.

E (only for MRLs)

The MRL based on extraneous residues.

F (for milks)

The residue is fat soluble and MRLs for milk products are derived as explained in "Codex Maximum Residue Limits/Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits for Milk and Milk Products".

(fat) (for meat)

The MRL/EMRL applies to the fat of meat.

Po

The MRL accommodates post-harvest treatment of the commodity.

PoP (for processed foods)

The MRL accommodates post-harvest treatment of the primary food commodity.

T

The MRL/EMRL is temporary, irrespective of the status of the ADI, until required information has been provided and evaluated.

V (for products of animal origin)

The MRL accommodates veterinary uses.


Definitions

Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)
"ADI" of a chemical is the daily intake which, during an entire lifetime, appears to be without appreciable risk to the health of the consumer on the basis of all the known facts at the time of the evaluation of the chemical by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues. It is expressed in milligrams of the chemical per kilogram of body weight. (Note: For additional information on ADIs relative to pesticide residues refer to the Report of the 1975 Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues, FAO Plant Production and Protection Series No.1 or WHO Technical Report Series No. 592).
Extraneous Maximum Residue Limit (EMRL)
"EMRL" refers to a pesticide residue or a contaminant arising from environmental sources (including former agricultural uses) other than the use of a pesticide or contaminant substance directly or indirectly on the commodity. It is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue or contaminant that is recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to be legally permitted or recognized as acceptable in or on a food, agricultural commodity, or animal feed. The concentration is expressed in milligrams of pesticide residue or contaminant per kilogram of the commodity.
Good Agricultural Practice in the Use of Pesticides (GAP)
"GAP" includes the nationally authorised safe uses of pesticides under actual conditions necessary for effective and reliable pest control. It encompasses a range of levels of pesticide applications up to the highest authorised use, applied in a manner which leaves a residue which is the smallest amount practicable. Authorised safe uses are determined at the national level and include nationally registered or recommended uses, which take into account public and occupational health and environmental safety considerations. Actual conditions include any stage in the production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of food commodities and animal feed.
Limit of Determination
"Limit of determination" is the lowest concentration of a pesticide residue or contaminant that can be identified and quantitatively measured in a specified food, agricultural commodity, or animal feed with an acceptable degree of certainty by a regulatory method of analysis.
Maximum Residue Limit (MRL)
"MRL" is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue (expressed as mg/kg), recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to be legally permitted in or in food commodities and animal feeds. MRLs are based on GAP data and foods derived from commodities that comply with the respective MRLs are intended to be toxicologically acceptable.

Codex MRLs which are primarily intended to apply in international trade, are derived from estimations made by the JMPR following:

a) toxicological assessment of the pesticide and its residue; and

b) review of residue data from supervised trials and supervised uses including those reflecting national food agricultural practices. Data from supervised trials conducted at the highest nationally recommended, authorised or registered uses are included in the review. In order to accommodate variations in national pest control requirements, Codex MRLs take into account the higher levels shown to arise in such supervised trials, which are considered to represent effective pest control practices.

Consideration of the various dietary residue estimates and determinations both at the national and international level in comparison with the ADI, should indicate that foods complying with Codex MRLs are safe for human consumption.

Pesticide
"Pesticide" means any substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling, or controlling any pest including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution, and processing of food, agricultural commodities, or animal feeds or which may be administered to animals for the control of ectoparasites. The term includes substances intended for use as a plant-growth regulator, defoliant, desiccant, fruit thinning agent, or sprouting inhibitor and substances applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transport. The term normally excludes fertilizers, plant and animal nutrients, food additives and animal drugs. (Note: "Agricultural commodities" refers to commodities such as raw cereals, sugar beet, and cottonseed which might not, in the general sense, be considered food).
Pesticide Residue
"Pesticide residue" means any specified substances in food, agricultural commodities, or animal feed resulting from the use of a pesticide. The term includes any derivatives of a pesticide, such as conversion products, metabolites, reaction products, and impurities considered to be of toxicological significance. (Note: The term "pesticide residue" includes residues from unknown or unavoidable sources (e.g., environmental), as well as known uses of the chemical).
Provisional Tolerable daily Intake (PTDI)
A value based on toxicological data. It represents tolerable human intake of a former agricultural pesticide that may occur as a contaminant in food, drinking water and the environment. (Report of 1995 JMPR, FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper 127, p. 5)
Temporary Acceptable Daily Intake
"Temporary ADI" is an acceptable daily intake established for a specified, limited period to enable additional biochemical, toxicological or other data to be obtained as may be required for estimating an acceptable daily intake. (Note: A TADI estimated by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues normally involves the application of a safety factor larger than that used in estimating an ADI).

Basis for Establishment of Codex Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides

Codex Maximum Residue Limits are recommended on the basis of appropriate residue data obtained mainly from supervised trials. The residue data thus obtained reflect registered or approved usage of the pesticide in accordance with "good agricultural practices". These may vary considerably from region to region owing to differences in local pest control requirements which are due to a variety of reasons. Consequently, residues in food, particularly at a point close to harvest may also vary. In establishing Codex MRLs, these variations in residues due to differences in "good agricultural practices" are taken into consideration, as far as possible on the basis of available data.

As Codex MRLs cover a wide spectrum of use patterns and "good agricultural practices" and need to reflect residue levels closely following harvest, they may occasionally be higher than the levels of residues found in national surveillance activities. This may be especially so with easily degradable pesticides and when analysis is carried out at a point in the distribution chain far removed from the last application of the pesticide.

Codex MRLs are established only where there is supporting evidence concerning the safety to humans of the resulting residues as determined by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues and this means that Codex Maximum Residue Limits represent residue levels which are toxicologically acceptable.

Basis for the Establishment of Codex Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits

Another type of Codex Maximum Limit, the Codex Extraneous Maximum Residue Limit, refers to residues of compounds, which were used as pesticides but are not any more registered as pesticides, arising from environmental contamination (including former agricultural use of pesticides) or uses of these compounds other than agricultural uses. These residues are treated as contaminants. Recommendations of EMRLs are mainly based on residue data obtained from national food control or monitoring activities. Codex EMRLs need to cover widely varying residue levels in food reflecting differing situations in respect of contamination of food by environmental and persistent pesticide residues. For this reason, Codex EMRLs cannot always reflect strictly the actual local residue situation existing in given countries or regions. Codex EMRLs represent acceptable residue levels which are intended to facilitate international trade in food while protecting the health of the consumer. They are established only when there is supporting evidence concerning the safety to humans of the residues as determined by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues.

Codex Maximum Residue Limits/Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits and Consumer Protection:
Determination of Total Daily Intake of Pesticide Residues

The primary purpose of setting maximum limits for pesticide residues in or on food and in some cases, in animal feeds, is to protect the health of the consumer. Codex MRLs and EMRLs serve that primary purpose as they help to ensure that only the minimum amount of pesticide is applied to food consistent with real pest control needs. Codex MRLs are based on residue data from supervised trials and not directly derived from Acceptable Daily Intakes(ADIs) which is a quantitative expression of acceptable daily amounts of residue which persons may ingest on a long term basis and which are established on the basis of appropriate toxicological data mainly from animal studies.

The acceptability of Codex MRLs is judged on the basis of a comparison of the acceptable daily intake with estimated daily intakes, as determined on the basis of suitable intake studies. Intake data from such studies, compared with acceptable daily intakes, help in determining the safety of foods in respect of pesticide residues. Guidelines for Predicting Dietary Intake of Pesticide Residues, were published in 1989 under the joint sponsorship of UNEP, FAO and WHO. The Guidelines are being revised with the objective to obtain more realistic estimates than those derived using the existing Guidelines.

Codex Maximum Residue Limits/Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits for Milk and Milk Products

Codex MRLs/EMRLs for fat-soluble pesticide residues in milk and milk products are expressed on a whole product basis.

For a "milk product" with a fat content less than 2%, the MRL applied should be half those specified for milk. The MRL for "milk products" with a fat content of 2% or more should be 25 times the maximum residue limit specified for milk, expressed on a fat basis.

Fat soluble pesticide residues to which the above general provision applies are indicated with the letter "F" in conjunction with the MRL specified for milk. However, in case of an MRL or EMRL set at or about the limit of determination, the letter "F" is not used.

Codex Maximum Residue Limits/Extraneous Maximum Residue Limits for Processed Foods

As a rule, Codex MRLs and EMRLs are established for raw agricultural commodities, However, where it is considered necessary for consumer protection and facilitation of trade, MRLs and EMRLs are also established for certain processed foods on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration information on the influence of processing on residues.


Codex Alimentarius Commission
Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme
FAO, 00100 Rome, Italy

Email: codex@fao.org