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  1. FDA In Brief

FDA In Brief: Final results from FDA’s Pesticide Monitoring Report shows pesticide residues in foods below federal limits

October 1, 2018

Media Inquiries

  Peter Cassell

“Our food safety role is a cornerstone of our vital consumer protection mission. Americans depend on the FDA to ensure the safety of their families and the foods they eat. Pesticides are commonly used to control pests that may negatively affect crops and certain trace amounts, known as pesticide chemical residues, may remain present in or on foods. The FDA shares responsibility with other agencies to prevent consumers from consuming pesticide residues that may be harmful, and we work to help prevent these exposures” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “As part of this commitment, we annually test foods commonly eaten by consumers and animals for pesticide residues to ensure that the foods meet federal standards and don’t pose a risk to the public health. FDA may take action if any foods are found to contain pesticide residues that are above the federal standard. Today we’re releasing the latest set of results from our annual Pesticide Monitoring Program. Like other recent reports, the results show that overall levels of pesticide chemical residues are below the Environmental Protection Agency’s tolerances, and therefore don’t pose a risk to consumers.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today issued the final results of its annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program from foods collected in FY 2016 and found that the vast majority of samples were below the tolerance levels set by the EPA. FDA evaluates foods annually for pesticide residues. Final results from that survey are released on a lagging basis, after they have gone through a thorough quality assurance process.

In FY 2016 (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016), the FDA analyzed 7,413 samples in its regulatory monitoring program: 6,946 human foods and 467 animal foods. We collected import human food samples from 98 countries and domestic human food samples from 46 states and U.S. territories. The FDA found that over 99 % of domestic and 90 % of import human foods were compliant with federal standards. Further, no pesticide chemical residues were found in 52.9 % of the domestic and 50.7 % of the import samples that we analyzed.

In FY 2016, the FDA also analyzed 467 animal food samples (242 domestic and 225 import) for pesticides. The Agency found that over 98 % of the animal food samples were compliant with federal standards. No pesticide chemical residues were found in 43.0 % of the domestic and 54.7 % of the import animal food samples.

In FY 2016, the FDA also conducted pesticide analyses for a special assignment, the “Collection of Selected Domestic and Imported Foods for Herbicides Analysis” (Herbicides) assignment, using two new selective residue methods (SRMs) for the analysis of the herbicides glyphosate and glufosinate and 30 selected acid herbicides. We analyzed for glyphosate and glufosinate residue levels in 274 grain corn, 267 soybean, 113 milk, and 106 egg samples. No samples contained violative levels of glyphosate or glufosinate; and no residues were found in the milk and egg samples. Non-violative levels of glyphosate were found in 173 (63.1%) of the corn samples and 178 (67.0%) of the soybean samples and non-violative levels of glufosinate were found in 4 (1.4%) of the corn samples and 3 (1.1%) soybean samples.

We determined no residues were found in 88.0 % (784) of the 891 samples for other acid herbicide residue levels, including six grain crops (corn, soybeans, barley, rice, wheat, and oats) and eight root crops (potatoes, turnips, sugar beets, peanuts, carrots, radishes, beets, and sweet potatoes). Two soybean samples (0.7 %) contained violative residues.

When the FDA identifies a violative sample in a domestic or imported food, the agency can take an enforcement action such as a warning letter, seizure or import alert against the responsible grower/manufacturer to remove the food from commerce or pursue an injunction to correct the cause of the violation. In addition to the pesticide report, the FDA monitors the levels of pesticide chemical residues in foods prepared for consumption in its Total Diet Study (TDS), an ongoing program that monitors contaminants and nutrients in the average American’s diet.

Related Information
FDA Pesticide Report
Constituent Update
Total Diet Study
Glyphosate QA
EPA pesticide tolerances
Past pesticide reports

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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