Residues are remnants of plant protection products which remain in or on our food, for example in fruit and vegetables, but also in products of animal origin. These residues must not entail any unacceptable health risks.Therefore, Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) are established, at a level as low as reasonably achievable, taking into account good agricultural practices (GAP). Thus, MRLs are not health standards in the first place, but maximum limits that cover residue levels that may result from use of plant protection products in accordance with the legally authorised conditions. An exceedance of the MRLs does not necessarily mean that there is a problem for the consumer, but may indicate that a farmer has applied a too high dose or has sprayed too late in the season, for example. Foods which contain residues below the legally established MRLs are safe for consumers.
With regards to residues, the data requirements for plant protection products are identical to the data requirements for the active substances. These data requirements are further described in section 6 of Regulation (EU) No. 283/2013.
The data requirements regarding residues in or on treated products, food and feed cover the following elements:
- Storage stability of residues
- Metabolism, distribution and expression of residues
- Magnitude of residue trials in plants
- Feeding studies
- Effects of processing
- Residues in rotational crops
- Proposed residue definitions and maximum residue levels
- Proposed safety intervals (e.g. waiting period before harvest)
- Estimation of potential and actual exposure through diet and other sources