2010-2011 Pesticides in Coffee, Fruit Juice and Tea

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 objectives of the pesticides in coffee, fruit juice and tea targeted survey were to:

  • generate baseline surveillance data on the levels of pesticide residues in coffee, fruit juice and tea available on the Canadian retail market; and
  • enable comparison of pesticide residue levels in tea with data from the 2009-2010 FSAP targeted survey on pesticides in tea and in juices with data from the 2008-2009 FSAP targeted survey on pesticides in fruit juice concentrates and previous National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP) and Children's Food Project results.

All data generated may be used by Health Canada in performing human health risk assessments.

In total, 297 coffee, 510 juice and 267 tea samples were collected from Canadian retail stores and were analysed for over 430 different pesticide residues. It should be noted that brewed tea and coffee were not analyzed in this survey. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitors food as sold rather than as consumed, maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides are established for dried tea leaves and coffee beans and there are analytical method considerations when analyzing brewed drinks. As such, the results presented should only be interpreted as tea and coffee available as sold and not brewed tea and coffee as consumed.

All coffee samples in this survey were compliant with existing MRLs for the pesticides analyzed. Only two of the 297 coffee samples were found to contain detectable pesticide residues and both were compliant with the Canadian General 0.1 parts per million (ppm) MRL.

For the juice samples analyzed in this survey, 99.6% were compliant with existing MRLs for pesticides. Only one lemon and one pineapple juice were found to contain one pesticide residue each in violation of the General 0.1 ppm MRL. Juice not from concentrate also had the highest percentage of samples with detected pesticide residues (67%) compared to juice from concentrate (48%) and juice concentrates (0%). Seventy-five percent of orange, apple, grapefruit and pear juices analyzed contained one or more detectable pesticide residues, all of which were in compliance with established MRLs. The overall compliance of juices analyzed in the present survey is similar to that of the 2008-09 FSAP juice survey on fruit juice concentrates (100% for 186 samples), and to juice samples analyzed for pesticides under the NCRMP (98.9% for 88 samples) and under the Children's Food Project (100% for 170 samples) from 2009 to February 2012.

The overall compliance rate for pesticide residues in the 267 tea samples in this targeted survey was 75%, compared to 59% in the 2009-10 FSAP targeted survey on tea. In total, there were 66 tea samples containing at least one pesticide violation of the General 0.1 ppm or an established MRL, with 138 pesticide residue violations in total. Oolong tea contained the highest percentage of samples with pesticide residue violations at 75% followed by white tea at 50%, green tea at 32%, herbal and black tea at 20% each, and other tea at 12%. Detectable pesticide residues were found in all types of tea sampled.

All juice and tea violations were assessed and appropriate follow-up action was pursued. Exposure to these pesticide residues in coffee, juice and tea is not expected to pose a human health concern to consumers.


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