EFSA evaluates proposed temporary EU Maximum Residue Levels
EFSA has issued an opinion on the possible health risks from certain proposed residue levels of pesticides in food and feed. This is one of the first steps in the full EU harmonisation of national maximum residue levels for pesticides in the Member States. MRLs that are considered safe for the population in one Member State may not necessarily be safe for the population in other countries due to different food consumption habits across Europe. An EU risk assessment of national MRLs is therefore necessary before they can be included in EU legislation in order to ensure that they do not pose unacceptable risks to consumers across Europe. EFSA has performed an initial risk assessment screening of the proposed temporary Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) based on available data provided by the European Commission. EFSA undertook model calculations which aimed to estimate the exposure of European consumers. According to the risk assessment, 92 of the 236 active substances evaluated by EFSA were unlikely to present a risk to consumers. For the remaining 144 substances, the first screening could not exclude a potential consumer risk. More work will now be carried out on these substances by the Member States and the European Commission with a view to establishing temporary MRLs. EFSA is ready to provide further scientific advice to risk managers in the context of the harmonisation of temporary MRLs for pesticides.
EU wide Maximum Residue Levels are already set for about 250 active substances (ingredient compounds used in pesticides). For the remaining substances, the EFSA evaluation is now the first step in the full harmonization of the Maximum Residue Levels for pesticides which are presently subject to different national Maximum Residue Levels in the Member States. EFSA performed an assessment of the safety of proposed temporary MRLs for 236 active substances based on model calculations which aimed to estimate the exposure of European consumers. EFSA’s exposure assessment took into account food consumption patterns across Europe and considered specific vulnerable subgroups of the population such as children and infants. More than 62.000 individual MRLs were assessed. EFSA applied a conservative screening model and identified those MRLs that are unlikely to present a risk to consumers.
The risk assessment methodology developed for this specific risk assessment task is based on internationally recognized methodologies. Owing to the high number of temporary MRLs that had to be evaluated and the limited availability of data, additional conservative elements were introduced in the calculations to overcome the data gaps and to have an efficient tool to manage the high number of calculations necessary. Therefore, the results of the calculations have to be considered as a first screening in order to identify those proposed temporary MRLs that are not likely to pose risk to consumers. According to EFSA’s risk assessment, 92 of the 236 active substances MRLs were unlikely to present a chronic or acute risk to consumers. For the remaining 144 substances, the first screening could not exclude a potential consumer risk and therefore further scientific assessment and/or risk management considerations are necessary. EFSA is ready to provide additional scientific advice to risk managers in harmonising temporary MRLs for pesticides at EU level.
EFSA has finalised its evaluation within the 6-month timeframe agreed with the Commission and will now forward it to the European Commission, Member States and the European Parliament.
The full opinion and Annexes are available on the EFSA website at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/32r.htm