The Crush - March 2020 - 1

Volume 47 Issue 3 March 2020


What to Know About Maximum Residue Limits
By Ted Rieger
The amount of pesticide residues allowed in or on food - called
maximum residue limits or levels (MRLs) - are monitored
and regulated in the U.S. and in numerous countries. In a 2020
Unified session titled "MRLs and You: A Global Look at What
Your Strategy Could Be," three experts provided background and
resources to help attendees better understand MRL issues related
to winegrapes and wine sold in domestic and international
export markets.
Dr. Wiley Hall, director of research chemistry with the Safe Food
Alliance (SFA), provided basic definitions and background on
pesticide residues and regulations. SFA was founded in 2016
as a sister organization of the Dried Fruit Association and now
offers training, consulting and lab testing services for pesticide
residues for all crop and food commodities. It is headquartered in
Sacramento, with offices in Modesto and Kingsburg and a lab in
Yuba City. Wiley provided the following definitions.
Pesticide residue: What's left over on the crop or product
from the application of crop protection material - insecticides,
fungicides, fumigants, sanitizers, etc. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) sets limits, or tolerances, as the
maximum amount of pesticide residues allowed to remain in or
on a food, as part of the process of regulating pesticides.
MRL: The maximum legal limit of a pesticide residue in or
on a food. The MRL is specific for the chemical and for the
food or crop group, and this term is more commonly used for
international markets. If no MRL exists, then any detectable
amount of the pesticide can be illegal.
Domestically, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration enforces pesticide tolerances
set by the EPA. In California, the Department

Session speakers Wiley Hall, James Christie, Will Drayton and Brian Leahy.
Photo: Meredith Ritchie

of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) collects samples of fresh produce
and farm products from throughout channels of trade for lab
analysis for pesticide residues to enforce EPA-set tolerances.
DPR enforcement delivers samples to a California Department of
Food and Agriculture laboratory for testing with multi-residue
screens than can detect more than 400 pesticides and breakdown
products. The California Department of Public Health Food and
Drug Branch enforces pesticide residue tolerances for processed
food products.
Wiley said five testing screens can detect residues for 100 of
the most used pesticides in California. In general, he said if
you follow the pesticide label directions, your residue should
be below the MRL. An article written by Wiley, "The Basics
of Food Tolerances and Maximum Residue Limits," provides
more background (visit He writes, "Remember, the key to avoiding pesticide
issues is to stay informed. By knowing where there may be
potential issues ahead of time and testing for residues before you
ship your commodity, you can manage your pesticide risk."

The Crush - March 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Crush - March 2020

The Crush - March 2020 - 1
The Crush - March 2020 - 2
The Crush - March 2020 - 3
The Crush - March 2020 - 4
The Crush - March 2020 - 5
The Crush - March 2020 - 6
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