On 30 March 2022, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published their latest annual report on pesticide residues in food, covering more than 88,000 food samples collected throughout the EU in 2020. Analysis of the results shows that 94.9% of samples fell within legally permitted levels, while for the subset of 12,077 samples analysed as part of the EU-coordinated control programme (EU MACP), 98.2% were within legal limits.
The EU MACP analyses samples randomly collected from 12 food products, with the same products being sampled every three years, which means upward or downward trends can be identified for specific goods. Of those samples analysed in the coordinated programme:
- 8,278 samples (68.5%) were found to be free of quantifiable levels of residues
- 3,590 samples (29.7%) contained one or more residues in concentrations below or equal to permitted levels
- 209 samples (1.7%) contained residues exceeding the legal maximum, of which 113 samples (0.9%) were non-compliant
The detailed results of the coordinated programme are available on EFSA’s website as browsable charts and graphs, making the data more accessible to non-specialists.
As well as the harmonised and comparable data collected under the coordinated programme, EFSA’s annual report also includes data collected as part of the national control activities carried out by individual EU member states, Norway and Iceland. The national control programmes are risk-based, targeting products that are likely to contain pesticide residues or for which legal infringements have been identified in previous years. These programmes give important information to risk managers but, unlike the data from the EUCP, they do not provide a statistically representative picture of the levels of residues expected in food sold in shops across Europe.
The results from the monitoring programmes are used to estimate dietary exposure of EU consumers to pesticide residues. EFSA carried out a dietary risk assessment as part of its analysis of the results, which suggests that the food commodities analysed in 2020 are unlikely to pose a concern for consumer health. However, EFSA have proposed a number of recommendations aimed at increasing the efficiency of European control systems, aimed at ensuring a high level of consumer protection.
Source: EFSA, 30 March 2022