March 16, 2015

TO: JPA Members

FROM: Patricia Faison

RE: JPA Regulatory Update
(1) European Union (EU) Pesticide Monitoring Report
(2) EWG Publishes Dirty Dozen List of Produce
(3) FDA and EPA Sign Memorandum of Understanding

European Union (EU) Pesticide Monitoring Report
The European Union Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recently published the results of pesticide monitoring activities conducted in 2013 in EU Member States, Norway and Iceland. The report, “The 2013 European Union report on pesticide residues in food” is available here. No juices are mentioned in the report. Among the commodities sampled were apples, peaches, and strawberries. A few of the report’s findings are highlighted below.

  • A total of 80,967 samples were analyzed for 685 pesticide residues. The majority of samples (55,253 samples or 62 percent) were from the
  • EU and European Economic Area countries. Imported products represented 22,400 samples and 3,314 samples were of unknown origin.
  • Overall, 97.4 percent of the samples were within the legal limits established by the EU. No pesticide residues were detected in 54.6 percent of the samples and 2.6 percent of the samples exceeded the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs).
  • A total of 4,620 samples of organic foods were analyzed (5.7 % of the total number of samples). For all major foods, the detection rate and samples exceeding the MRL were lower for organic products compared to conventionally produced food except for baby food. Organic fruits were analyzed as well. (Refer to pages 75 – 78 for details.)
  • In addition, the reporting countries were asked to analyze 12 foods (apples, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, rye, oats, cow’s milk, swine meat, cabbage, leek, lettuce, and wine) for 209 pesticides. The sampling of 11,582 products was referred to as the “EU-coordinated monitoring programme” (EUCP). Overall, only 0.9 percent of the samples exceeded the MRL. In 52.8 percent of the samples, no pesticide residues were found. (Data for apples, peaches and strawberries are included on pages 15-18, 29-32, and 33-36, respectively.)
  • EFSA calculated the short-term (acute) exposure for the 12 food products covered by the EUCP. The Agency found that for the majority of the pesticides analyzed, the short-term exposure was found to be negligible or within a range that is unlikely to pose a consumer health concern.
  • EFSA also calculated chronic or long-term exposure, predicting lifetime exposure. Overall, EFSA concluded that dietary exposure to the pesticides covered by the EUCP was not likely to pose a long-term health risk.

Additional data is included for unprocessed commodities, including some fruits (e.g., pomegranate, passion fruit, oranges, mangoes) in Figures 3.9 and 3-10 (pages 66-67) of the report.

EWG Publishes Dirty Dozen List of Produce
In late February 2015, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) published the “EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” available here, which is based on pesticide residue data published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As part of this evaluation, the EWG published the “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables, available here, “that reflects the overall pesticide loads of the most common fruits and vegetables.” Apples, grapes, nectarines, peaches and strawberries are on the “Dirty Dozen” list. According to the EWG, the foods on the list tested positive for a number of pesticide residues and showed higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.

Although juices are not on the Dirty Dozen list, the EWG noted the following in Shopper’s Guide:

“The USDA found six pesticides in apple juice, a staple of many children’s diets (USDA 2014b). About 17 percent of the apple juice samples contained diphenylamine, a pesticide banned in Europe in 2012. Grape juice samples tested positive for six pesticides, most common was carbaryl, a potent insecticide not allowed in Europe but found in about 25 percent of the 176 U.S. grape juices tested (USDA 2014b).” (Note: USDA 2014b refers to the USDA’s “Pesticide Data Program: Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2013.”)

In JPA’s staff review of the USDA’s 2013 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, available here, all of the apple juice samples met the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pesticide residue tolerances. One sample of grape juice contained thiabendazole, a pesticide in which the EPA has not established a tolerance.

The EWG also published a list of “Clean Fifteen” produce, which represents the produce with relatively few pesticides and low pesticide concentrations. Cantaloupe, grapefruit, kiwi, mango, papaya, and pineapple are on the list, available here.

FDA and EPA Sign Memorandum of Understanding
Today, the FDA issued a Constituent Update, available here, announcing the Agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the EPA “to share data on pesticides and toxic substances.” By sharing such data, both Agencies will have access to the most current information in which to assess the risks to the public and environment.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or comments.

Patricia Faison

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