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Monitoring for Pesticide Residues in Products of Plant Origin, in the European Union and Norway - Report 1997

This report on "Monitoring of Pesticide Residues in Products of Plant Origin in the European Union and Norway- Report 1997" was forwarded to the Standing Committee on Plant Health for agreement on publication on 29/30 July 1999. The Standing Committee agreed that publication of the report was desirable and noted that this was also the view of Norway during the Working Group discussions on the forwarded report.

Enquiries concerning this report should be addressed to the contact points listed in the Annex.

August 1999

Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Legal base

3. Maximum Residue Levels (MRL), Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADI), and Acute Reference Doses (acute RfD)

4. National monitoring programmes

4.1. Monitoring results

4.2. Samples with residues of more than one pesticide

4.3. Pesticides found most often

5. EU co-ordinated monitoring exercise

5.1. Statistical evaluation of the sampling design applied in the EU co-ordinated monitoring programme

5.2. Evaluation by pesticide

5.3. Evaluation by commodity

5.4. Evaluation by country

5.5. Intake calculation

6. Sampling

7. Quality assurance

8. Rapid Alert system

9. Summary

9.1. National Monitoring programmes

9.2. EU co-ordinated monitoring programme

9.3. Quality assurance and sampling

1. Introduction

This report covers the national situations in the 15 EU Member States and Norway for the calendar year 1997. It is evident that this document can only give an overall view on monitoring of pesticide residues. Each Member State and Norway have been invited to contribute a short national statement (in English) for inclusion in this document. More detailed information about the situation in individual countries is available from the respective national monitoring authorities and should be requested from there. The issue of pesticide residues in foodstuffs of animal origin, as regulated in Council Directive 86/363/EEC 1 , Footnote1 is not covered by this report.

2. Legal base

In Council Directives 86/362/EEC 2 and 90/642/EEC 3 , as amended, maximum levels for pesticide residues are fixed in and on products of plant origin. Member States are asked to check regularly the compliance of foodstuffs with these levels. Inspections and monitoring should be carried out in accordance with the provisions of Council Directive 89/397/EEC 4 on the official control of foodstuffs, and Council Directive 93/99/EC 5 on additional measures concerning the official control of foodstuffs. Sampling should be done in accordance with Council Directive 79/700/EEC 6 .

Besides national monitoring programmes, the Commission services recommended, via Commission Recommendation 96/738/EC 7 , the participation of each Member State in a specific EU co-ordinated monitoring programme. The aim of these kinds of programmes is to work towards a system which makes it possible to estimate actual dietary pesticide exposure.

Article 7 of Council Directive 86/362/EEC, and Article 4 of Council Directive 90/642/EEC, as amended by Council Directive 97/41/EC 8 , require Member States to report the results of the monitoring programme for pesticide residues carried out both under their national programme and under the EU co-ordinated programme to the Commission. A format for the reports on the Community programme was agreed (Doc. 1609/VI/97). The Commission is required to compile and collate this information.

3. Maximum Residue Levels (MRL), Acceptable Daily Intakes (ADI), and Acute Reference Doses (acute RfD)

Pesticide residue levels in foodstuffs are generally legislated to:

  • minimise the exposure of consumers to the harmful or unnecessary intake of pesticides;
  • to control the correct use of pesticides in terms of the authorisations or registrations granted (application rates and pre-harvest intervals);
  • to permit the free circulation of products treated with pesticides as long as they comply with the MRLs fixed.

A maximum residue level (MRL) for pesticide residues is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue (expressed in mg/kg) legally permitted in or on food commodities and animal feed. MRLs are based on good agricultural practice data and food derived from commodities that comply with the respective MRLs are intended to be toxicologically acceptable.

The acceptable daily intake (ADI) is the estimate of the amount of a substance in food, expressed on a body-weight basis, that can be ingested daily over a lifetime without appreciable health risk to the consumer. The ADI is based on the no observed adverse effect levels (NOAEL) in animal testing. A safety factor that takes into consideration the type of effect, the severity or reversibility of the effect, and the problems of inter- and intraspecies variability is applied to the NOAEL. The ADI therefore reflects chronic toxicity.

The acute reference dose (acute RfD) is the estimate of the amount of a substance in food, expressed on a body-weight basis, that can be ingested over a short period of time, usually during one meal or one day, without appreciable health risk to the consumer. It therefore reflects the acute toxicity. At present, acute reference doses have been fixed for certain pesticides.

MRLs are not toxicological limits but must be toxicologically acceptable. Exceeded MRLs are strong indicators of violations of good agricultural practice. If MRLs are exceeded, comparison of the exposure with ADIs and/or acute RfDs will then indicate whether or not there are possible chronic or acute health risks, respectively.

4. National monitoring programmes

4.1. Monitoring results

The results of the 16 national monitoring programmes are shown in Table 1. About 46,000 samples were analysed for, on average, 126 different pesticides (ranging from 66 to 281), usually by multi-methods capable of detecting up to 100 or more pesticides - this means that an estimated 4.6 million individual determinations were carried out. Detectable residues at or below the MRL were found in 36 % of the samples, meaning that 64 % of the samples contained no pesticide residues. In 3.4 % of the samples, the residues exceeded MRLs (both national and EU-MRLs). It was confirmed that EU-MRLs were exceeded in 2.3 % of all samples. Of the 126 pesticides analysed for, 51 % were detected on average.

The results varied significantly between the different countries. It is important to note that differences in the monitoring programmes rather than differences in the presence of pesticide residues in food could account for these differences. Several factors can be mentioned:

  • The choice of pesticides investigated;
  • Sampling, e.g. more random or more targeted; the proportion of domestic and imported foodstuffs; the choice of crops;
  • Methods used, e.g. the addition of single methods to detect specific, often problematic pesticides;
  • Analytical capabilities of the laboratories (differences in reporting levels);
  • Definition of exceeded levels (e.g. including or excluding analytical uncertainties);
  • Differences in national MRLs, leading to differences in exceeded levels reported.

Most of the exceeded levels were reported for fruit and vegetables. The results are shown in Table 2. The results for cereals are shown in Table 3. The percentages from the three Tables cannot be compared directly, as not all countries reported separately for cereals and fruit and vegetables. However, it is clear that fruit and vegetables contained more residues and that pesticides in fruit and vegetables also exceeded the MRLs more often than in cereals.

Table 1: Results of the sixteen national monitoring programmes for pesticide residues (including fruit and vegetables, and cereals)

  No. of samples analysed No. of pesticides and metabolites analysed for No. of different pesticides found % No. of samples with residues £ MRL % No. of samples with residues > MRL (EU or national MRLs) % No. of samples with confirmed residues > EU-MRLs %
B 1325 115 45 39 546 41 127 9.6 33 2.5
DK 1736 123 58 47 537 31 32 1.8 30 1.7
D 6009 70 44 63 2567 43 185 3.1 182 3.0
EL 853 75 37 49 308 36 22 2.6 22 2.6
E 3438 132 54 41 1298 38 81 2.4    
F 4018 141 108 77 2045 51 353 8.8 259 6.5
IRL 438 99 48 48 214 49 18 4.1 18 4.1
I 7085 66     1493 21 71 1.0 71 1.0
L 220 89 28 31 73 33 12 5.5 9 4.1
NL 9540 281 130 46 3818 40 376 3.9 200 2.1
A 364 83     86 24 8 2.2 8 2.2
P 918 86 33 38 248 35 30 3.3 30 3.3
FIN 2433 163 87 53 935 38 75 3.1 42 1.7
S 3450 237 90 38 1127 33 86 2.5 58 1.7
UK 991 129 72 56 329 33 9 0.9 5 0.5
Norway 3070 128 59 48 1014 33 64 2.1 23 0.7
EU + Norway 45888 126 (average) 64 (average) 51 16638 36 1549 3.4 990 2.3 9

Table 2: Results of fifteen national monitoring programmes for pesticide residues in fruit and vegetables (A and FIN did not report separately on the fruit and vegetable programme)

  No. of samples analysed No. of pesticides and metabolites analysed for No. of different pesticides found % No. of samples with residues £ MRL % No. of samples with residues > MRL (EU or national MRLs) % No of samples with confirmed residues > EU-MRLs %
B 1244 115 43 37 530 43 127 10.2 33 2.7
DK 1613 121 56 46 532 33 32 2.0 30 1.9
D 5345       2264 42 182 3.4 182 3.4
EL 853 75 37 49 308 36 22 2.6 22 2.6
E 3165 121 53 44 1258 40 74 2.3    
F 3673 141 108 77 1818 50 353 9.6 259 7.1
IRL 383 99 47 47 181 47 18 4.7 18 4.7
I 6846       1452 21 70 1.0 70 1.0
L 200               7 3.5
NL 9465 275 130 47 3812 40 375 4.0 200 2.1
P 878 86 32 37 233 27 30 3.4 30 3.4
FIN 2321 162 86 53 919 40 75 3.2 42 1.8
S 3140 217 90 41 1110 35 86 2.7 58 1.9
UK 706 105 69 66 311 44 9 1.3 5 0.7
Norway 3005 124 28 47 1004 33 64 2.1 23 0.8
EU 10 + Norway 42837 137 (average) 67 (average) 49 15732 37 11 1517 3.5 12 979 2.5 13

Table 3: Results of fourteen national monitoring programmes for pesticide residues in cereals (EL, A, P, FIN did not report separately on the cereal programme)

  No. of samples analysed No. of pesticides and metabolites analysed for No. of different pesticides found % No. of samples with residues £ MRL % No. of samples with residues > MRL (EU or national MRLs) % No of samples with confirmed residues > EU-MRLs %
B 81 7 4 57 16 20 0 - 0 -
DK 14 123 23 5 22 5 4 0 - 0 -
D 664       303 46 3 0.5 0 -
E 273 49 8 16 40 15 7 2.6    
F 345   8   227 66 0 - 0 -
IRL 55 74 7 9 33 60 0 - 0 -
I 239       41 17 1 0.4 1 0.4
L 20               2 10
NL 75 275 6 2 6 8 1 1.3 0 -
FIN 112       16 14 1 0.9 1 0.9
P 40 86 3 3 15 38 0 - 0 -
S 310 81 6 7 17 5 0 - 0 -
UK 285 24 3 13 18 6 0 - 0 -
Norway 65 40 3 8 10 15 0 0.00 0 -
EU 15 + Norway 2687 73 (average) 5 (average) 7 747 28 16 13 0.5 17 4 0.2 18

4.2. Samples with residues of more than one pesticide

In some cases, residues of more than one pesticide residue were found in a product. This can be of particular concern due to possible aggregate risks. The results are given in Table 4.

Table 4: Samples with residues of more than one pesticide

  No. of samples analysed 19 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 No. of samples with multiple residues %
B 1325 167 90 63 23 11 1 1 356 26.9
DK 1736 113 36 5 2       156 9.0
D 6009 639 236 59 21 7 4   966 16.1
EL 853 49 14 4 1       68 8.0
E 3438                  
F 3947 591 290 136 76 12 2   1107 28.0
IRL 383 48 26 6 7 3     90 23.5
I 7085 310 71 15 5       401 5.7
L 220 17 10           27 12.3
NL 9540 699 287 101 16 11 2   1116 11.7
A 490 42 5 10         57 11.6
P 918 42 10 5         57 6.2
FIN 2840 590 292 125 49 8 1   1065 37.5
S 3450 323 141 56 35 8 1   564 16.4
UK 991 89 55 31 13 1 1 2 192 19.4
Norway 3070 260 84 42 21 2 1 1 411 13.4
EU 20 + Norway 46295 3979 1647 658 269 63 13 4 6633  
%   9.3 3.8 1.5 0.6 0.2 0.03 0.01 15.5  

In about 16 % of the samples analysed, residues of more than one pesticide were found. In most of these cases (9.3 %), residues of two pesticides were found, but in 1.5 %, residues of 4 or more different pesticides were found.

4.3. Pesticides found most often

The pesticides that were found most often in the national monitoring programmes are shown in Table 5.

Table 5: Pesticides found most often in the national monitoring programmes in the European Union and Norway as reported

Country Pesticides found most often. The last row lists the pesticides mentioned most often from all Member States and Norway
B Iprodione, inorganic bromide, propamocarb, tolclofos-methyl, dithiocarbamates, tolylfluanid, vinclozolin, carbendazim, pirimicarb, thiabendazole
DK Dithiocarbamates, captan, carbendazim, thiabendazole, procymidone, chlormequat, imazalil, endosulfan, iprodione, vinclozolin
D Procymidone, dithiocarbamates, vinclozolin, iprodione, endosulfan, chlorpyriphos, thiabendazole, methidathion, benomyl-group, imazalil
EL Dithiocarbamates, captan, chlorpyriphos, iprodione, phosalone, thiabendazole, phosmet, procymidone, endosulfan, malathion, methamidophos, chlorpyriphos-methyl
E Chlorpyriphos, chlorothalonil, fenitrothion, malathion, metalaxyl, methamidophos, pirimiphos-methyl, triazophos
F Acephate, bromopropylate, bromides, captan, chlorfenvinphos, chlorpropham, deltamethrin, dimethoate, dithiocarbamates, carbendazim, thiabendazole, procymidone, iprodione, vinclozoline, tolylfluanid, imazalil, methidathion, oxadixyl, phosalone
IRL Captan, iprodione, chlorpyriphos, chlorothalonil, methidathion, dicofol, endosulfan, dimethoate, tolclofos-methyl, thiabendazole, folpet
I Chlorothalonil, dithiocarbamates, endosulfan, vinclozolin, acephate, carbendazim, procymidone, imazalil
L Iprodione, procymidone, vinclozolin, bromopropylate, tolclofos-methyl, endosulfan, captan, deltamethrin, folpet, chlorothalonil, dithiocarbamates
NL Iprodione, imazalil, vinclozolin, tolylfluanid, procymidone, tolclofos-methyl, pirimicarb, thiabendazole, pyrimethanil, methidathion, captan, bupirimate, bromopropylate
A Procymidone, iprodione, endosulfan, phosalone, dichlorfluanid, captan, folpet, vinclozolin, dithiocarbamates, fenvalerate
P Dithiocarbamates, dimethoate, thiabendazole, malathion, captan, carbendazim, phosmet, folpet, endosulfan, phosalone, azinphos-methyl, pirimiphos-methyl
FIN Imazalil, chlorpyriphos, endosulfan, thiabendazole, iprodione, methidathion, procymidone, tolylfluanid, captan, dimethoate
S Imazalil, thiabendazole, captan, endosulfan, methidathion, dithiocarbamates, chlorpyriphos, azinphos-methyl, procymidone, methamidophos
UK Carbendazim, chlorpyrifos, dithiocarbamates, imazalil, iprodione, procymidone, thiabendazole, chlorpropham, tecnazene, pirimiphos-methyl, inorganic bromide, tolclofos-methyl
Norway Thiabendazole, iprodione, tolylfluanid, imazalil, methidathion, captan, chlorpyriphos, procymidone, dicofol, phenylphenol
EU +

Norway

Iprodione, thiabendazole, procymidone, dithiocarbamates, captan, endosulfan, vinclozolin, imazalil, methidathion, chlorpyriphos, carbendazim (benomyl-group), folpet

Pesticides found most often were mainly fungicides. With the exception of folpet and methidathion, these pesticides were already found most often in the 1996 national monitoring programmes.

5. EU co-ordinated monitoring exercise

As an EU co-ordinated monitoring exercise, the Commission recommended in 1997 via Commission Recommendation 96/738/EC 21 that five commodities be tested (mandarins, pears, bananas, beans, and potatoes) for thirteen pesticides (acephate, carbendazim, chlorothalonil, chlorpyriphos, DDT, diazinon, endosulfan, iprodione, metalaxyl, methamidophos, methidathion, thiabendazole, triazophos). It was also recommended to take, if possible, 50 samples per commodity.

All Member States and Norway participated in the EU co-ordinated programme. Overall, some 6000 samples were analysed (1037 mandarin samples, 1354 pear samples, 1193 banana samples, 779 bean samples, 1658 potato samples). However, not all samples were analysed for all thirteen pesticides.

5.1. Statistical evaluation of the sampling design applied in the EU co-ordinated monitoring programme

The establishment of a suitable sampling plan is required in order to achieve reliable information concerning the concentration of pesticides in fruit and vegetables on the European market. According to Commission Recommendation 96/738/EC, each Member State has to select at least 50 samples from the market and to determine the content of certain pesticides in the samples.

In this section of the report the statistical characteristics of the sampling design used in the co-ordinated monitoring programme are evaluated in order to demonstrate the reliability of the conclusions drawn from the results of the study.

An important characteristic of the sampling design employed in this programme is the lowest detectable portion of food items in the European market containing pesticides above the reporting level. A reliable investigation of the risk for the consumer due to the pesticide content of food requires a high sensitivity of the whole sampling design including the analysis. This aim is achieved by taking a sufficient number of samples and by employing state-of-the art analytical methods, thus ensuring a low reporting level of the pesticides.

For this purpose a statistical method proposed by the Codex Alimentarius has been applied. This approach is based on the fact that the lowest portion of food items containing pesticides above the reporting level can be assessed if at least one sample of the whole number of samples contains a detectable concentration of a certain pesticide. This estimation is performed on a 95 % confidence level. The results are presented in Table 6. The sufficient sensitivity of the sampling design is indicated by the very low portion of foods exceeding the reporting level being detectable with the sampling plan employed in this study 22 .

Table 6: Detectable portion of food items exceeding the reporting level (%)

oreover the results of the co-ordinated programme show that a considerable number of samples have been detected with pesticides above the reporting level, thus ensuring a sound basis for subsequent risk analysis.

5.2. Evaluation by pesticide

The summarised results are given in Table 7 for all thirteen pesticides. The Table also gives information on the highest residue of a particular pesticide found in this monitoring exercise. More details can be found in the Annex, where the complete results for all Member States and all commodities are given.

The results vary between the thirteen different pesticides investigated. In the EU co-ordinated monitoring programmes, residues of thiabendazole were found most often (17.7 % of all samples), followed by chlorpyriphos (6.5 %), methidathion (5.9 %), carbendazim (4.5 %), iprodione (1.3 %) and endosulfan (1.3 %). Residues of the other pesticides were found in less than 1 % of the samples.

Residues of chlorpyriphos exceeded MRLs most often (0.24 %), followed by methamidophos (0.18 %), and iprodione (0.13 %).

Table 7: Results from the EU co-ordinated monitoring programme for pesticide residues for each pesticide analysed for in mandarins, pears, bananas, beans, and potatoes

Pesticide Total no. of samples No. of samples without residues No. of samples with residues £ MRL % No. of samples with residues > MRL % Maximum residue found in mg/kg (commodity in which it was found and the EU-MRL in mg/kg)
Acephate 4967 4959 8 0.16 0 0 0.50 (mandarins, EU-MRL: 1.0)
Carbendazim 3661 3496 165 4.51 1 0.03 2.14 (mandarins, EU-MRL: 5.0)
Chlorothalonil 5528 5517 11 0.20 5 0.09 1.40 (beans, no EU-MRL fixed)
Chlorpyriphos 5808 5428 380 6.54 14 0.24 0.68 (mandarins, EU-MRL: 0.3) 23
DDT 5140 5138 2 0.04 1 0.02 0.06 (potatoes, EU-MRL: 0.05)
Diazinon 5643 5612 31 0.55 0 0 0.43 (mandarins, EU-MRL: 0.5)
Endosulfan 5494 5425 69 1.26 0 0 0.78 (beans, EU-MRL: 1.0)
Iprodione 5567 5496 71 1.28 7 0.13 3.60 (pears, EU-MRL: 10.0)
Metalaxyl 4941 4919 22 0.45 0 0 3.08 (mandarins, no EU-MRL fixed)
Methamidophos 4979 4955 24 0.48 9 0.18 0.70 (beans, no EU-MRL fixed) 24
Methidathion 5558 5228 330 5.94 0 0 1.68 (mandarins, EU-MRL: 2.0)
Thiabendazole 5022 4131 891 17.74 4 0.08 5.50 (mandarins, EU-MRL: 6.0)
Triazophos 4808 4806 2 0.04 0 0 0.14 (beans, no EU-MRL fixed)

5.3. Evaluation by commodity

With regard to all five commodities investigated, about 34 % contained residues of pesticides at or below the MRL, and 1.1 % above the MRL (0.5% for EU-MRLs, 0.6 % for national MRLs). In mandarins residues at or below the MRL were found most often (69 %), followed by bananas (51 %), pears (28 %), beans (21 %), and potatoes (9 %). MRLs were exceeded most often in beans (1.9 %), followed by mandarins (1.8 %), pears (1.3 %), and bananas and potatoes (0.5 %) 25 .

Table 8 gives an overview of the individual determinations (pesticide * sample combinations) of the thirteen pesticides investigated in the co-ordinated programme only. Residues were found most often in mandarins, followed by bananas, pears, beans, and potatoes. This corresponds to the results given in the previous paragraph for all pesticides. Pesticide residues exceeding the MRL were found most often in beans (0.18 %), followed by mandarins (0.15 %), potatoes (0.04) and bananas (0.03 %).

Table 8: Residues found in individual determinations (ind. det.) in the five commodities analysed in the EU co-ordinated monitoring programme

  Total number of ind. det. Number of ind. det. Without residues Number of ind. det. where a particular residue was found % Number of ind. det. where a residue exceeded the MRL %
Mandarins 11685 10717 968 8.28 17 0.15
Pears 14950 14670 280 1.87 0 0
Bananas 12383 11753 630 5.09 4 0.03
Beans 8465 8377 88 1.04 15 0.18
Potatoes 19633 19593 40 0.20 7 0.04

5.4. Evaluation by country

The results cannot be compared between the Member States, as countries reported differently, including or excluding other than the thirteen pesticides from the co-ordinated programme. With regard to the thirteen pesticides and five commodities of the co-ordinated programme only, residues were found in 23 % of the samples, and in 0.5 % these residues exceeded MRLs. Differences between countries can result e.g. from different sampling approaches (relation of compliance and surveillance sampling), amounts of samples analysed for pesticides that are most likely to be found, and reporting levels (refer to chapter 2). Table 9 shows the results sorted by country.

Table 9: Residues of pesticides in the five commodities as analysed in the Member States and Norway

  Number of samples analysed With residues £ MRL % With residues > MRL %
B 263 64 24.3 1 0.38
DK 271 50 18.5 1 0.37
D * 899 382 42.5 33 3.67
EL 177 44 24.9 1 0.56
E 250 76 30.4 5 2.00
F 575 165 28.7 1 0.17
IRL * 106 42 39.6 6 5.66
I 785 102 13.0 0 0
L 65 7 10.8 1 1.54
NL * 552 328 59.4 2 0.36
A * 126 58 46.0 1 0.79
P 252 42 16.7 1 0.40
FIN * 407 220 54.1 5 1.23
S 753 220 29.2 4 0.53
UK 154 104 67.5 0 0
Norway 348 93 26.7 2 0.57
EU 26 +
Norway
3893 967 24.8 17 0.44

* The results relate to residues of all pesticides investigated, not only the thirteen pesticides analysed in the EU co-ordinated programme. This explains the higher numbers compared with the other countries.

5.5. Intake calculation

To estimate the risk to the consumer of consuming the commodities investigated in the EU co-ordinated programme, calculations can be done based on the intake (Standard European Diet of the World Health Organisation). A realistic intake calculation should not be carried out with the highest residues found, but more correctly on the 90th percentile (= the value below which 90 % of the values are) of the amount of residues found in the monitoring. The results are given in Table 10.

Table 10: Estimation of the dietary intake of pesticide residues (based on the 90th percentile) in those commodities of the co-ordinated programme in which the highest residues of the respective pesticides were found

Compound Food item 90th percentile (mg pesticide / kg commodity) ADI 27 (mg pesticide / kg body weight Average consump-tion
(kg commodity / day)
28
Intake via specific commodity (mg pesticide / day / kg body weight) 29 Intake in % of the ADI
Acephate Mandarins <0.01 0.03 0.006 - -
Carbendazim Mandarins <0.01 0.02 30 0.006 - -
Chlorothalonil Beans <0.01 0.03 0.0012 - -
Chlorpyriphos Mandarins <0.10 0.01 0.006 0.00001 0.1 %
DDT Potatoes <0.01 0.02 0.2408 - -
Diazinon Mandarins <0.01 0.002 0.006 - -
Endosulfan Beans <0.01 0.006 0.012 - -
Iprodione Pears <0.01 0.06 0.0113 - -
Metalaxyl Mandarins <0.01 0.03 0.006 - -
Methamidophos Beans <0.01 0.004 0.012 - -
Methidathion Mandarins <0.50 0.001 0.006 0.00005 5 %
Thiabendazole Mandarins <2.00 0.1 0.006 0.0002 0.2 %
Triazophos Beans <0.01 0.001 0.012 - -

These evaluations relate only to chronic exposure, corresponding to the definition of the ADI. At the time being, there is no universally accepted methodology for the evaluation of risks from acute exposure. However, as an example, the acute risk can be evaluated by using the Consumer Exposure Model of the UK, where intakes, based on the 97.5 th percentile of consumption, are calculated and can be compared with the acute reference doses. For this co-ordinated programme, this was done for those pesticides which have acute toxicities and where acute reference doses have been set. However, the calculation was done without a variability factor. The results are shown in Table 11.

Table 11: Acute risk from the pesticides investigated in the co-ordinated programme for the products with the highest residues found in the European Union. The calculation was performed with the Consumer Exposure Model of the UK for only those pesticides which have acute toxicities and where an acute reference dose has been set.

Compound Food item Maximum residue found
(mg pesticide / kg commodity
Acute reference dose
(mg pesticide / kg body weight
97.5 th percentile of consumption
(kg commodity / day)
31
Intake via specific commodity (mg pesticide / day / kg body weight) Intake in % of the acute reference dose 32
Methidathion Mandarins 1.68 0.01 33 0.0731 0.002 20 %

6. Sampling

Commission Directive 79/700/EEC established sampling methods for the official control of pesticide residues in and on fruit and vegetables. Member States are supposed to follow these methods for their pesticide residue monitoring. Table 12 shows the information given in the summaries of the national monitoring reports of the Member States and Norway on sampling. In most cases, sampling followed national plans that were often established taking into consideration consumption, production, imported and exported products and risks (e.g. results from previous years).

Only a few Member States reported on the exact relation between domestic and imported produce that was sampled. The relation should reflect the situation in the respective Member State. The average number from the four Member States reporting on this particular subject was 50:50 domestic:imported produce. More detailed information can be found in the summaries of the national monitoring reports in the Annex.

Samples were taken at different points, such as wholesalers and retailers, local and central markets, points of entry (for imported products), and processing industries.

Table 12: Summary on sampling by the national authorities (information taken from the national reports)

Country Summary on sampling
B Mostly according to Commission Directive 79/700/EEC, at wholesalers, retailers, auctions, and importers. The sampling plan took account of average consumption, production figures, results of previous years, and analytical and budgetary possibilities
DK The sampling plan took account of dietary consumption, production and import data, results of the previous year; the samples were taken at production level and at wholesalers and importers
D The sampling plan took account of the supply on the market, production, the turnover and the import of goods, and a basket of goods
EL No information
F The samples were taken at wholesalers, retailers, importers, and producers
E Sampling was done mostly according to Council Directive 79/700/EEC at wholesale level. The sampling plan took account of the average production figures
IRL The sampling plan took account of the dietary importance, the sampling was done primarily at wholesale level
I Based on dietary consumption and production, the samples were taken at random
L Samples were taken at central markets and imported products at wholesale level, the sampling plan was based on a rolling plan
NL Sampling was done at auctions, importers, wholesalers, and industries processing agricultural products, based on a sampling plan. For the setting up of the plan, consumption was an important issue. Com. Dir. 79/700/EEC was respected
A Based on a plan, taking into account data concerning dietary consumption, production and import of fruit and vegetables, results of former measurements, and analytical and budgetary possibilities
P Sampling was mainly done at wholesale markets, some samples taken at retail outlets and farmgates, generally following Com. Dir. 79/700/EEC
FIN Sampling plans took account of consumption figures and known residue problems; samples were taken at wholesalers, farms, and packing houses
S The number of samples taken was roughly proportional to the food's consumption rate and amounted to at least 100 samples for each of the more important foods
UK The sampling plan took account of the level of consumption, the level of residues, and ensured a wide range of products were included, CAC guidelines were followed
Norway Samples were taken at wholesalers' warehouses, reflecting their share of the market, but more samples were taken of commodities suspected of retaining residues

7. Quality assurance

Council Directive 90/642/EEC, as amended by Council Directive 97/41/EC, requires Member States to control maximum residue levels according to Council Directives 89/397/EEC and 93/43/EC 34 . This also means that laboratories have to comply with the relevant European Standards and that Member States are requested to assess the laboratories by applying the criteria as laid down in European Standard EN 45002 and to require proficiency testing schemes where appropriate. However, in 1997 it was still possible to submit data from unaccredited laboratories.

Commission Recommendation 96/738/EC suggests that Member States make a short statement on the national quality assurance measures applied to sampling and analysis in their 1997 reports. Quality assurance measures have been developed and it has been recommended that these be respected for the EU co-ordinated monitoring programme for 1999. A second workshop on Analytical Quality Control will be held in 1999 to review these measures. A proficiency test, supported by the European Commission, will also be undertaken in 1999 to help laboratories in the Member States to improve their analytical capabilities. Table 13 gives an overview of the situation of accreditation and participation in proficiency tests. It demonstrates that laboratories in some countries have achieved accreditation, but laboratories in other countries are still in the preparatory phase.

8. Rapid Alert system

The Rapid Alert System for Foodstuffs has been established by Council Directive 92/59/EEC 35 on General Product Safety.

Products carrying a serious and immediate risk to the health and safety of the consumer are classified as ALERT notifications. The notifying Member State informs the Commission, which then notifies this to the contact points in all Member States. After receiving an ALERT notification, Member States should take appropriate action.

Notifications which do not fulfil the requirements laid down in Article 8 of Council Directive 92/59/EEC on General Product Safety, but which are nevertheless regarded as important information, are forwarded by the Commission to the contact points in the Member States as information notifications. (NON-ALERTS)

In 1997, no ALERT, but one NON-ALERT was notified (residues of not further specified pesticides in vegetables from China, notified by Norway/EFTA). Although this means that Member States did not regard other pesticide contaminations in foodstuffs as an immediate health risk, it has to be appreciated that the notification criteria are at the discretion of the Member States. Discussion of these criteria is ongoing.

Table 13: Accreditation and participation in proficiency tests of the pesticide residue laboratories

Country No. of labo-
ratories
Accreditation (refer to Council Directive 93/99/ECand 97/41/EC) Participation in proficiency tests
B 2 Accredited for the most important analytical methods and commodities Both laboratories participated in the European proficiency test
DK 3 Accredited Yes
D No information Accreditation is achieved by most chemical control authorities, all others will achieve accreditation soon Participation in national and international proficiency tests
E 14 In preparatory phase Participation in EU proficiency test
EL 5 In preparatory phase 2 laboratories participated in EU proficiency test
F 6 No information No information
IRL 1 No information The laboratory participated in the EU proficiency test
I 71 No information No information
L 1 In preparatory phase No information
NL 11 Quality Assurance System complies with EN 45001 EU proficiency test (all 11)

FAPAS (5 laboratories)

A 2 Accredited since autumn 1998 2 laboratories participated in EU-proficiency-tests
P 4 Participation of 2 laboratories in the "Analytical Quality Assurance Study for Pesticides in Rice Flour" of GTZ 2 laboratories participated in FAPAS and EU proficiency tests
FIN 2 Accredited (FINAS) Both laboratories participated in 3 international proficiency tests
S 2 Accredited by SWEDAC Participation in four proficiency tests
UK 5 All laboratories meet requirements of UKAS or GLP All laboratories participated in Dutch Chek Monitoring Programme, other international programmes, and FAPAS
Norway 1 Accredited (EN 45001, GLP according OECD), covers analysis of dithiocarbamates in fruit and vegetables Regular participation in international proficiency tests

9. Summary

9.1. National Monitoring programmes

All fifteen Member States and Norway monitored pesticide residues in foodstuffs of plant origin. Overall, some 46,000 samples were analysed for, on average, 126 different pesticides.

In 36 % of the samples, residues of pesticides at or below the MRL were detected in samples of fruit, vegetables and cereals. In about 3.4 % of all samples, residues above the MRL (both national and EU harmonised) were found, mainly in fruit and vegetables.

In 16 % of the samples, residues of more than one pesticide were found, and in 1.5 % residues of 4 or more pesticides could be detected. Pesticides found most often were mainly fungicides. In one case, an information notification (NON-ALERT) was done for a product contaminated with pesticides within the EU Rapid Alert System for Foodstuffs.

The results of 1997 cannot be directly compared with those from 1996, as the 1996 report did not include cereals. In 1996, pesticide residues were found in about 40 % of the fruit and vegetable samples, with MRLs being exceeded in 3 % of cases and multiple residues in 13 % of the samples. Pesticides found most often were about the same in 1996 and 1997.

9.2. EU co-ordinated monitoring programme

In a special co-ordinated programme, five commodities (mandarins, pears, bananas, beans, and potatoes) were analysed for thirteen different pesticides (acephate, carbendazim, chlorothalonil, chlorpyriphos, DDT, diazinon, endosulfan, iprodione, metalaxyl, methamidophos, methidathion, thiabendazole, and triazophos). In this programme, about 6000 samples were analysed, but not each sample for all thirteen pesticides. In 23 % of the samples, residues of one of the thirteen pesticides were found, and in 0.5 % of the samples MRLs were exceeded.

In this co-ordinated programme, residues of one of the thirteen pesticides were found most often in mandarins, followed by bananas, pears, beans, and potatoes. However, residues exceeding an MRL were found most often in beans (0.18 %), followed by mandarins (0.15 %) and bananas (0.03 %). Of the thirteen pesticides within the co-ordinated programme, residues of thiabendazole were found most often (17.7 %), followed by chlorpyriphos, (6.5 %), methidathion (5.9 %), and carbendazim (4.5 %). However, residues of chlorpyriphos exceeded MRLs most often (0.24 %), followed by methamidophos (0.18 %) and iprodione (0.13 %). The highest residue that was found in this co-ordinated programme was 5.5 mg thiabendazole/kg mandarin. Intake calculations demonstrate that neither ADIs nor acute RFDs 36 were exceeded for these pesticide/commodity combinations.

9.3. Quality assurance and sampling

Samples for the national and the EU co-ordinated programmes were taken at different points such as retailers, wholesalers, markets, points of entry, and processing industries. National sampling plans exist in most countries, taking into consideration e.g. consumption data, production figures, import/export relation and risks (e.g. results from previous years).

Accreditation of laboratories and quality assurance measures have been implemented in most countries; some countries, however, were still in a preparatory phase in 1997. In 1999, a workshop to further develop common quality assurance measures and the organisation of a proficiency test for laboratories will further improve the situation.

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1 Official Journal No L 221, 07/08/1986 p. 0043 - 0047

2 Official Journal No L 221, 07/08/1986 p. 0037 - 0042

3 Official Journal No L 350, 14/12/1990 p. 0071 - 0079

4 Official Journal No L 186, 30/06/1989 p. 0023 - 0026

5 Official Journal No L 290, 24/11/1993 p. 0014 - 0017

6 Official Journal No L 207, 15/08/1979 p. 0026 - 0028

7 Official Journal No L 335, 04/12/1996 p. 0054 - 0057

8 Official Journal No L 184, 12/07/1997 p. 0033 - 0049

9 Excluding E from the calculation, as no data available

10 Excluding A

11 Excluding L from the calculation, as no data available

12 Excluding L from the calculation, as no data available

13 Excluding E from the calculation, as no data available

14 In addition, 73 samples have been analysed for chlormequat and mepiquat, residues ( MRL have been found in 52 samples.

15 Excluding EL and A

16 Excluding L from the calculation, as no data available

17 Excluding L from the calculation, as no data available

18 Excluding E from the calculation, as no data available

19 Do not correspond exactly to the numbers given in Table 3 due to specific national reporting formats

20 Excluding E, as no data available

21 Official Journal No L 335, 24/12/1996 p. 0054-0057

22 The results of the monitoring programme from the UK are not included in the evaluation since data were not available.

23 New MRL according to Council Directive 98/82/EC: 2 mg/kg (Official Journal No. L 290, 29/10/98 p. 25-54)

24 New MRL according to Council Directive 98/82/EC: 0.5 mg/kg (Official Journal No. L 290, 29/10/98 p. 25-54)

25 This is related to the data given by some Member States for all pesticides investigated, not only to the thirteen pesticides of the co-ordinated programme (refer to Table 9)

26 Excluding D, IRL, NL, A, and FIN

27 WHO/PCS/99.1

28 Standard European Diet of the World Health Organization

29 Calculated only if the 90th percentile is above the general reporting limit of 0.01 mg/kg of the agreed format

30 ADI of thiophanate-methyl, as this pesticide has the lowest ADI of the three pesticides (carbendazim, benomyl, thiophanate-methyl) detected as carbendazim.

31 Consumer Exposure Model, UK

32 Calculated without variability factor

33 WHO/PCS/99.1

34 Official Journal No. L 175, 19/07/1993 p. 0001 - 0011

35 Official Journal No. L 228, 11/08/1992 p. 0024 - 0032

36 There is no universally accepted methodology for the evaluation of risks from an acute exposure. The calculation used for this report is based on the UK Consumer Exposure Model. No variability factor was taken into consideration.


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