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Residues and maximum residue levels of plant protection products

When surveilling food the competent authorities of the German Federal States examine whether the acceptable maximum residue levels for active substances contained in plant protection products and other contaminants are complied with. However, this factor is already taken into consideration in the course of the authorisation procedure of a plant protection product.

Residue trials

Within the framework of the authorisation procedure for plant protection products, residue trials have to be carried out, unless, due to the patterns of use, residues cannot occur in food or feed. The objective of residue trials is the determination of the potential maximum amount of plant protection product residues at the time of consumption by humans or animals. Only if the amount of residues is acceptable in regard to health, and if residues can be determined by commonly used methods, an authorisation for use will be issued. In order to reduce residues the BVL is in a position to impose conditions and stipulate pre-harvest intervals in conjunction with the authorisation.

Maximum residue levels (MRLs)

MRLs are limit values for residues in food or feed, assessed for each active substance and broken down by food and feed products. When establishing MRLs, residues determined in trials, data on toxicology and food consumption are taken into account. In this procedure, MRLs are not automatically set to a value which is toxicologically only just acceptable. If residues prove to be lower in practice, limits will be reduced. MRLs have been harmonised in the EC. The current MRLs regime under EC Regulation 396/2005 came into full force on 1 September 2008. Annexes II and III of this Regulation contain harmonised EC MRLs for pesticide actives substances in combination with a wide variety of food and feed commodities. Annex IV lists those active substances for which MRLs do not apply. The European Commission maintains a database for EC MRLs the link to which is found in the right-hand column.

Food surveillance and food monitoring

Within the scope of food surveillance, the competent authorities of the German Federal States examine whether food and feed contain the maximum amount of residues acceptable for active substances contained in plant protection products and other contaminants. The BVL evaluates the reports of the Federal States and compiles them to a national report which is also submitted to the EC. Additionally, the Federal Government and the States carry out food monitoring, a systematic measuring and observation programme where representative food for the Federal Republic of Germany is sampled and tested for undesired substances detrimental to health. Please find additional information in the section Food.

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