Pesticides in food: latest data published

A total of 87,863 food samples were collected in the European Union in 2021. Analysis of the results shows that 96.1% of samples fell within legally permitted levels. For the subset of 13,845 samples analyzed as part of the EU-coordinated control program (EU MACP), 97.9% were within legal limits.

The EU MACP analyses samples randomly collected from 12 food products. For 2021, these were aubergines, bananas, broccoli, cultivated fungi, grapefruits, melons, sweet peppers, table grapes, virgin olive oil, wheat, bovine fat, and chicken eggs.

Of those samples analyzed in the coordinated program:

  • 58.1% (8,043 samples) were found to be free of quantifiable levels of residues.
  • 39.8% (5,507) contained one or more residues in concentrations below or equal to permitted levels (known as maximum residue levels, or MRLs).
  • 2.1% (295) contained residues exceeding the permitted levels.

The same selection of products is sampled every three years, which means upward or downward trends can be identified.

The overall rate at which pesticide residues exceeded the MRL rose from 1.4% in 2018 to 2.1% in 2021. Excluding grapefruits, the average MRL exceedance rate was 1.4% in 2021, the same as in 2018. In 2021, Member States drew attention to the higher presence of pesticide residues in grapefruits imported from outside the EU, and in the same year, the European Commission increased border controls.


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