Food Safety Magazine

News | October 2, 2018

FDA: Pesticide Levels in Most Domestic and Imported Foods Meet EPA Legal Limits

By Staff

FDA: Pesticide Levels in Most Domestic and Imported Foods Meet EPA Legal Limits

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issues the results of its fiscal year 2016 Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program.

FDA tested for 711 pesticides and industrial chemicals across 7,413 total samples. The results, when compared to previous years’ findings, remained consistent. Most samples were below tolerance levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • 2,670 domestic food samples were tested--99 percent of which were found to be in compliance with federal pesticide residue standards
  • 4,276 imported food samples were tested--90 percent of which were found to be in compliance with federal pesticide residue standards
  • 52.9 percent of domestic and 50.7 percent of imported human food samples analyzed had no detectable levels of pesticide residues
  • 43 percent of the 242 domestic animal food samples had no detectable levels of pesticide chemical residues
  • 54.7 percent of the 225 imported animal food samples had no detectable levels of pesticide chemical residues
  • Less than 1 percent of domestic samples and less than 10 percent of imported samples were found to be violative. This is when a sample has pesticide chemical residues above the EPA tolerance or pesticide chemical residues for which the EPA has not established a tolerance or a tolerance exemption for the specific pesticide/commodity combination.
  • Less than 2 percent of the animal food samples were found to contain violative pesticide chemical residues. Most of these violations concerned pesticides for which no tolerance has been established.

The fiscal year 2016 program also included FDA’s first official use of a new testing method for glyphosate and glufosinate in corn, soybeans, milk, and eggs. The agency tested 274 grain corn samples, 267 soybean samples, 113 milk samples, and 106 egg samples for a total of 760 samples. Findings from this special assignment:

  • 53.7 percent had no detectable residues of the pesticides
  • None of the milk and egg samples had any detectable glyphosate or glufosinate residues
  • All the residues detected in the corn and soybean samples were below the tolerance levels set by the EPA

Read more on FDA’s sampling program, including how the agency deals with manufacturers that produce volatile food samples that do not adhere to EPA’s standards.

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