2009-2010 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As a part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

The main objective of the pesticide residues in fresh fruit and vegetables targeted survey was to provide baseline surveillance data for pesticide residues in those foods sold intra-provincially (i.e., non-federally registered and not imported). This will assess the potential exposure of Canadians who obtain their fresh fruit and vegetables from a geographically localized region.

Currently, federally registered agricultural commodities are monitored by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) under the National Chemistry Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP). The 2009-2010 Pesticide Residues Survey targeted apples, small berries, leafy greens (i.e., lettuce) and tomatoes that are traditionally outside the CFIA core activities. For the purposes of this targeted survey, non-federally registered foods are those foods that are sold within the province they are produced/grown (i.e., the foods do not cross the provincial boundary). In total, 1000 apples, 943 small berries, 525 lettuce and 610 tomato samples were collected in CFIA's four operational areas (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario and West).

The 3078 samples collected were analysed for over 400 different pesticide residues. Fifty percent of the apple samples collected contained no detectable pesticide residues. While 50.5%, 71.8% and 76.7% of small berries, leafy greens and tomatoes contained no detectable pesticide residues, respectively. In total there were 84 different pesticide residues detected. Less than one percent (11 samples) of the total 3078 samples collected contained pesticide residues in violation of established Maximum Residue Limits. Seven of the 11 violations occurred in leafy greens followed by three violations in small berries, and one violation in tomatoes. All violations were assessed and appropriate follow-up actions reflecting the magnitude of the health risk were taken. The overall compliance rate of this targeted survey was 99.6%.

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