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  1. Chemical Contaminants & Pesticides
Pesticides and Food

Pesticides are used in agriculture to protect crops from insects, fungi, weeds, and other pests. Federal government agencies in the United States share responsibility for the oversight of pesticide chemical residues in or on food. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) evaluates pesticides to ensure that they are safe for human health and the environment when used according to label directions. The EPA also establishes tolerances, which are the maximum residue level of a specific pesticide chemical that is permitted in or on a specific human or animal food in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for enforcing the EPA tolerances for domestic foods shipped in interstate commerce and foods offered for import into the U.S., except for meat, poultry, catfish (Siluriformes), and certain egg products that are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The FDA enforces pesticide tolerances through multiple programs and strategies, including its pesticide residue monitoring program.  We can take regulatory action when there is a no-tolerance violation (a pesticide chemical residue is detected in a commodity for which EPA has not established a tolerance or exemption from the need for a tolerance) or an over-tolerance violation (pesticide chemical residues are detected at a level above a tolerance).

Applying pesticides is one strategy that farmers use to protect plants from pests, such as insects, fungi, and weeds. To ensure a safe level of exposure to the residues of pesticides that may remain on food, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets tolerance levels.  It is the responsibility of the FDA  to monitor and regulate the U.S. food supply; for pesticide residues, this includes testing foods to ensure only those pesticides that are allowed by the EPA are present, and within the allowable tolerance.

When new data and information emerge that raise safety concerns about the specific uses of a pesticide, the EPA may lower or revoke the tolerance altogether.

From FDA

From Other Federal Government Agencies

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