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Pesticide residues - UK monitoring programme

20 July 2018

The Pesticide Residues in Food Expert Committee has published a series of reports on its UK monitoring programme.

Quarter 4 report for 2017

The final quarterly report for 2017 includes findings for 931 samples of 31 different food types.  Of these samples, 39 contained residues above the Maximum Residue Level, including samples of beans with pods, okra, oranges, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, prepared fresh fruit, and speciality fruit.

Having considered the findings and undertaken risk assessments, the Committee concludes: “In most cases the presence of the residues found would be unlikely to have had an effect on the health of the people who ate the food. In the case of peppers, we found residues in some samples where short-lived effects were possible.”

Beans with pods

4 samples – one from Morocco, two from Malaysia, and one from India - with residues above MRLs


Two samples – one from India and one from Jordan - with residues above MRLs


One sample from South Africa with residue above MRL


One sample from the UK with residue above MRL


One sample from Poland with residue above MRL


Two samples from the UK with residues above MRL

Prepared fresh fruit

Six samples – 4 from the UK and 2 from Egypt - with residues above MRL

Speciality fruit

One sample of pomegranates from Egypt with residues above MRL

For more details see the full report here.


2017 Annual Report

In 2017, some 3,357 samples of food and drink in the UK supply chain were tested for pesticide residues.  The results showed that 53% of the samples tested by the laboratory did not have any residues of pesticides tested for. 

Around 3% of the samples contained a residue above the Maximum Residue Level. For UK produced food this equated to 2.20% of UK samples, and for imported food it was 4.6% of imported samples.

The report comments: “HSE assess the risk to consumer health for every sample that contains a residue at any level. From the results of these assessments we can see that even where food contains a residue above the MRL, there is very rarely any risk to the health of people who have eaten the food.

Seventeen samples of UK produce were referred to HSE enforcement as they contained pesticides not approved for use in the UK on those crops.

Fruit and vegetables

The Committee tested 1,883 samples of fruit and vegetables of which  63 samples (3.3%) contained a residue above the MRL.  Six samples of UK produce (0.9%) contained a residue above the MRL.

Out of the 18 okra samples with MRL exceedances, 7 were examples of frozen okra.

The report includes a case study looking at residues levels found in UK strawberries which were permitted for use and within legal levels.  FPC and a number of individual members provided assistance to the Committee to help them understand current good practice within this sector to manage disease control.


School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

In 2017 the scheme distributed around 444 million pieces of fruit and vegetables to 16,456 infant, primary and special schools in England.

In 2017 PRiF tested 137 samples for up to 375 pesticides and found residues in 120 of those samples (87.6%). None of the samples contained a residue above the MRL

The scheme is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. The report comments: “At the end of the 2016-17 school year, DHSC decided to make all suppliers to the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme provide more stringent evidence of full compliance with all relevant legislation before produce is supplied to the scheme, together with a written declara to light.  The PRiF will no longer be involved in checking samples supplied to the scheme for pesticide residues.”

The 2017 Annual Report is published here.



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