Through a notification dated 15 October, 2019 the FSSAI has issued instructions about monitoring of pesticide residues in food products as a government study has revealed the presence of pesticide residues in food commodities. FSSAI has fixed the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) tolerance limits for various pesticides and antibiotic residues in food commodities under the Food Safety and Standards (contaminants, toxins and Residues) regulations 2011, which are reviewed from time to time.
The study titled “Monitoring of Pesticide Residues at National Level” conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare has revealed presence of pesticide residues in food commodities beyond the specified limits in some of the states. Out of a total of 23,660 samples analysed, pesticide residues were detected in 4,510 samples which is about 19.10% out of which the residues in 523 (2.2%) samples were found exceeding maximum residue limits (MRL). This report can be viewed at FSSAI website www.fssai.gov.in
In order to ensure the availability of good quality foodstuff to consumers and for keeping a check on the problem of food adulteration and pesticides in the country, the FSSAI has advised the state food authorities to keep a strict vigil by regularly drawing samples from all sources namely manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers and to take strict action against the offenders under the provision of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. In this regard the FSSAI has advised them to carry out a targeted special enforcement drive, particularly in locations where pesticide residues have been found to be more than MRL. During this drive at least 10 samples of various commodities may be drawn and tested in the state food labs. In case testing facilities are not available, the sample may be sent to FSSAI notified Labs for analysis of pesticide residues.
Highlights of the Survey Report on status of Pesticide Residues
Under MPRNL scheme, 27 NABL accredited participating laboratories collected the samples of vegetables, fruits, spices, curry leaves, red chilli powder, rice, wheat, pulses, milk, fish/marine, tea, meat, egg and water from retail outlets, APMC markets, mother dairy, organic outlets, farm gate and farmgate samples provided by CIPMC located in different parts of India. The samples collected were analysed for the possible presence of various groups of pesticides such as organo-chlorine, organophosphorus, synthetic pyrethroids, carbamates, neonicotinoids, herbicides,fungicides, etc.
Samples detected with non-approved residues were the most in curry leaves, fruits, red chilli powder, spices. Commodities that had moderate non-approved samples were pulses, wheat, surface water and tea. Commodities with few detections of non-approved pesticides is marine fish, oilseeds, whereas egg. Vegetables from the market, farmgate as well as organic vegetables had the most samples detected with non-approved pesticides whereas, in meat, egg and milk samples no pesticide residues were detected.
Vegetable samples were collected from retail outlets and agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) markets located at various parts of country. The samples of brinjal showed the maximum number of pesticide residue detection; followed by the samples of tomato, okra, cabbage, cauliflower and cucumber. In spices Maximum number of MRL exceedance was found in cardamom samples followed by the cumin samples.
Some of the most commonly detected residues were acephate, chlorpyriphos, imidacloprid, carbendazim, acetamiprid,profenophos, methamidophos and thiamethoxam, while non-approved pesticides detected were mainly ethion, carbendazim, acetamiprid, triazophos,bifenthrin, imidacloprid, cypermethrin, chlorpyriphos, profenofos, hexaconazole and profenofos.