As part of its health risk assessment process before a pesticide is registered, Government regulatory agencies determine whether eating residues that are likely to remain in or on food at the time of harvest is acceptable and unlikely to cause a health concern to any group of people, including infants, children, and pregnant women.
This maximum amount of expected residue is then legally established as a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL), following public (national and international) consultation.
Maximum residue level is the highest level of a pesticide residue that is legally tolerated in or on food or feed when pesticides are applied correctly. International parties such as the European Union, Codex Alimentarius
Commission, and North American Free Trade Agreement have attempted to harmonize pesticide legislation by providing maximum residue limits, but globally these limits remain variable. In Nigeria for instance, the National Food and Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NAFDAC) sets the maximum resdue limits for pesticides in crops, foods, vegetables and fruits.
MRLs ensure that exposure to the pesticide residue presents no concerns for human health. Each MRL is set for a specific pesticide and food type combination, taking into consideration the nation’s unique climate, geography, topography and water systems.
MRLs apply to food types that include, but are not limited to, fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy products, grains and some processed foods.
The MRLs set by the regulating body are assessed using modern scientific methodology and are consistent with those of other major Organisation for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) countries.
MRLs are set at levels far below the amount of pesticide residue that could present a health concern. MRLs are set for all food commodities sold in open markets, whether imported or produced locally.
Read Also : Pesticide Residues in Cereals and Pulses
Pesticide residues in or on imported foods are measured at the point of entry into the country to make sure that imported foods meet Government stringent MRL pesticide residue standard before they are distributed in open markets.
Under the guidance of international organizations like the OECD and the United Nations, the government participates with other countries in developing the standards and processes used worldwide for determining acceptable pesticide residue levels.
In conclusion, while pesticides help protect our food supply, many people are concerned about pesticides on the food they eat.
Small amounts of pesticide residues may stay in or on our food after it is applied, but pesticides ‘break down’ over time, meaning very little residue is left by the time we eat the food.
The rate of ‘break down’ depends on the type of pesticide used, the application conditions, and the type of food treated. So, the amount and nature of pesticide residue can be different from one pesticide or food type to another.
Government regulatory agencies are responsible for approving pesticide uses and conditions of use, and for setting Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides.
Food safety is a shared priority between growers, industry, statess and federal organizations. While government agencies work to enforce food regulatory laws, food producers help keep food safe by using and improving on good agricultural and pest management practices.
One key practice is to follow pesticide label directions, because they give instructions for the safe and proper use of pesticides.
This helps keep residues within the limits, helping ensure a safe food supply. Government agencies should engage food producers to participate in a variety of on-farm programs to help put in place effective food safety procedures in their day-to-day operations.
Pesticide residues get into cereals and pulses either through pesticide application to control pest on the field or in storage;
The extent of pesticide residues problems in grains depends on the type of pesticide applied, application environment, and the type of crop
Minimum residue limit (MRL) can be achieved in cereals and pulse if the growers abide by standards set by regulatory agencies.