• Open Access

The 2011 European Union Report on Pesticide Residues in Food


  • European Food Safety Authority

  • Correspondence: pesticides.mrl@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: EFSA wishes to thank Erica Muller (Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority) and Caroline van der Schoor (Dutch Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides) for their independent scientific reviews of this scientific output. In addition, EFSA wishes to thank the members of the Networking Group on Pesticide Monitoring and national experts for the support provided for the preparation of this scientific output. Furthermore, EFSA wishes to thank EFSA's staff members Daniela Brocca, Paula Medina-Pastor, Hermine Reich and Giuseppe Triacchini for the preparation of this scientific output. Finally, the contribution of EFSA's contractor (The Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety - AGES) is acknowledged.
  • Approval date: 15 May 2014
  • Published date: 20 May 2014
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2010-00164
  • On request from: EFSA


The report presents the results of the control activities related to pesticide residues in food carried out in 2011 in 29 European countries (27 Member States and 2 EFTA countries). The report also presents a dietary risk assessment. On the basis of the detailed analysis of the results, EFSA derived some recommendations aimed at improving the enforcement of the European pesticide residue legislation. In 2011, more than 79,000 samples of more than 600 food products were tested for pesticide residues throughout Europe. Nearly 900 pesticides were sought and less than 400 were detected in measurable amounts. In the framework of the EU-coordinated monitoring programme which covered more than 12,000 samples 98.1 % of the tested food samples analysed complied with the legal limits and that 53.4 % of samples contained no measurable residues at all. The dietary risk assessment that was performed to estimate the long-term exposure of consumers confirmed that there was no long-term risk to consumer health through their diets from 99 % of the 171 pesticides assessed. For two pesticides (dieldrin and heptachlor) the estimated worst-case exposure exceeded the toxicological reference value, indicating there may be a potential for an impact on consumer health. Neither compound is authorised for use as a pesticide, but due to historical use and the high persistence of the molecules and their capacity to bioaccumulate, they are still present in the food chain. The risk assessment that focussed on the short-term exposure revealed that potential consumer health concerns could not be excluded in 253 instances should the products that contained residues in high concentrations be consumed in high amounts. Finally, an acute risk assessment was carried out for pears that contained multiple residues of pesticides that share the same toxicological effects. Two samples of pears exceeded the toxicological threshold for cumulative effects.