EU MRLs for pesticide residues are set to protect the consumers and to make trade possible in products containing residues. MRLs are set based on authorised uses of plan protection products pursuant to Directive 91/414/EEC.
Applicants for an MRL have to submit data on the level of residues resulting from the specified agricultural use and on the toxicology of the pesticide.
The level of the MRL is determined by 'supervised trials'. From the toxicological information an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) and an Acute Reference Dose (ARfD) are derived.
The acceptable daily intake (ADI) reflects the chronic toxicity. It 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 acute reference dose (ARfD) reflects the acute toxicity. It 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.
To determine whether an MRL is acceptable, the intake of residues through all food that may be treated with that pesticide is calculated and compared with the ADI and the ARfD, for long and short term intake and for all available models of European consumer groups.
In case that the MRL requested is not safe, the lowest limit of analytical determination (LOD) is set as the MRL. The LOD is also set for crops on which there are no uses of the pesticide and when uses do not leave any detectable residues. The default LOD in the EU legislation is 0,01 mg/kg.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for the risk assessment and evaluates each intended new MRL.
Based on the EFSA's opinion, the Commission can issue a Regulation to establish a new MRL or to amend or remove an existing MRL.