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  1. FDA In Brief

FDA In Brief: FDA annual pesticide report finds that pesticide levels remain well below federal limits

September 13, 2019

Media Inquiries

  Peter Cassell

“Ensuring the safety of the American food supply is a critical part of the work of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Our annual efforts to test both human and animal foods for pesticide residues in foods is important as we work to limit exposure to any pesticide residues that may be unsafe,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The latest set of results demonstrate once again that the majority of the foods we test are well below the federal limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, meaning that they meet EPA’s safety standards. We will continue to do this important monitoring work, taking action when appropriate, to help ensure our food supply remains among the safest in the world.”

The FDA today issued the final results of its annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program from foods collected in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 which found that the vast majority of samples were below the tolerance levels set by the EPA. The FDA evaluates foods annually for pesticide residues. Final results from the surveys are released after they have undergone a thorough quality assurance review.

The agency tested 6,069 samples of domestic and imported foods for humans and animals in FY 2017 for more than 750 pesticides and industrial chemicals. The FDA found 96.2% of domestic and 89.6% of import human foods were compliant with federal standards. In addition, the FDA found 98.8% of domestic and 94.4% of import animal foods were compliant with federal standards.

The FDA also conducted two field assignments for this year’s report. The first analyzed 550 domestically produced milk, shell eggs, honey and game meat samples. The agency found no pesticide residues in any of the milk or game meat sampled, and 87.5% of shell egg and 77.3% of honey samples also had no pesticide residues. The second assignment was a continuation of a two-year sampling effort that began in FY 2016 which analyzed samples of corn, soybean, milk and eggs for glyphosate and glufosinate. No glyphosate or glufosinate residues were detected in any of the milk and egg samples, or 82.1% of the corn and 60% of the soybean samples. In the samples where residues were detected, all were below the tolerance levels set by the EPA. Testing for glyphosate and glufosinate is now part of the routine pesticide monitoring program.

If the FDA identifies a violative sample in a domestic food, a warning letter may be issued to the responsible grower/manufacturer and other sanctions may be put into effect, such as seizure, to remove the food from commerce; or injunction, to correct the cause of the violation. Additionally, shipments of violative imported food commodities may be refused entry into U.S. commerce.

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The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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