Dr David Jukes, The University of Reading, UK

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Food Law News - UK - 2016

DEFRA Publication, 26 July 2016

PESTICIDES - Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food: Annual report for 2015

This report summarises the work of the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) during 2015. The Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF) provides independent advice to the government on the monitoring of pesticide residues in food.

A copy of the report is available on this site.  See: Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food: annual report for 2015.  The following is taken from the start of the report.

Chairman’s Introduction

This is the fifth annual report from the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF). The committee is made up entirely of independent members with a wide range of expertise.

In addition to a summary of results for the 2015 monitoring programme, this report also includes some explanations of parts of our process which I hope you will find both interesting and useful.

Throughout 2015, PRiF have published quarterly reports on the results that have been found in the monitoring programme. We have also reported monthly on beans with pods, grapes, milk, okra and potatoes as part of our rolling reporting programme. All these results have been published on

In 2015, 3,614 samples of food and drink from the UK supply chain were tested for pesticide residues. We tested for up to 388 pesticides in some of the commodities. The results showed us that 57% of the samples tested by the laboratory did not have any residues of the pesticides we tested for. The results also showed that less than 3% of the samples contained a residue above the MRL (maximum residue level) set by law. This report describes all of these results and details of the follow-up actions.

Part of the monitoring programme looks at foods where we expect to find residues. As our programme has improved capability with continuing developments in the sensitivity of the equipment used to test pesticide residues, we can now look for pesticides at lower levels. For these reasons we expect to see a rise in the number of samples with residues detected, including some over the MRL. Every sample that contains a residue at any level is assessed for risk to consumer health. From the results of these assessments we can see that even where food contains a residue above the MRL, there is very rarely risk to the health of people who have eaten the food.

During the year we found residues in excess of MRLs for two substances (BAC and DDAC) which are used as pesticides but more frequently used as disinfectants in the food industry. Since the microbiological safety of food is very important HSE and the Food Standards Agency have been discussing with the industry how to proceed and a summary of this issue is given in this report.

The centre pages of the report describe the monitoring of okra, which illustrates the actions that follow on from detection of excess pesticide residues in a food.

Our Open meeting in Worcester in October 2015 was generally considered to be a success. We look forward to welcoming you to the 2016 Open meeting in York on 19th October.

For information about the monitoring programme, please look on

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