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FDA Study Shows Low Pesticide Levels in Food

  • Ninety-eight percent of domestic and 90% of imported foods tested in FY 2015 were compliant with federal pesticide residue limits, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report issued on November 6, 2017. The testing was done as part of FDA’s ongoing pesticide residue monitoring program, which began in 1987.

  • By way of background, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) establishes maximum permitted residue levels (or tolerances) for pesticides in or on human and animal food in the United States. (Information on how EPA regulates the amount of pesticides that may remain in or on foods can be found on the Agency’s website.) FDA is responsible for enforcing these tolerances for domestic foods shipped in interstate commerce and for foods imported into the U.S., except for meat, poultry, catfish and certain egg products that are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  • FDA’s pesticide residue study further revealed that no pesticide chemical residues were found in 49.8% of the of the domestic food samples or 56.8% of the imported human food samples tested. Pesticide chemical residues above federal tolerances were found in less than 2% of domestic food samples and less than 10% of imported food samples. FDA analyzed 5,572 human foods and 417 animal foods as part of the FY 2015 study. For animal food, no pesticide chemical residues were found in 51.6% of the domestic samples and 57.9% of the imported samples.

  • In addition to the pesticide residue monitoring program, FDA also conducts pesticide residue testing on focused sampling of commodities of interest and monitors the levels of pesticide chemical residues in food prepared for consumption in the Total Diet Study (TDS).

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 311



About this Author

Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...