EFSA evaluates possible risks from the pesticide chlormequat in grapes

Following information from food business operators on table grapes containing residues of the pesticide chlormequat, the European Commission has requested urgent scientific advice from EFSA on possible risks for public health[1]. The use of the pesticide chlormequat is not permitted in the EU for use on grapes.

In a statement published today, EFSA’s experts say that if the concentration of chlormequat on grapes does not exceed the threshold[2] of 1.06 milligrams per kilogram, it is not likely to pose a short-term risk for public health. However, the experts say that children in those EU countries with the highest consumption levels of table grapes would be the most exposed group. If children were to eat, at one time, a large amount of grapes containing chlormequat at levels above 1.06 mg/kg, health risks could not be excluded[3]. EFSA specified that acute symptoms would include irritation to mouth or throat, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and headache.

EFSA also specified that this threshold should not be understood as a recommendation for a change of the current Maximum Residue Level (MRL)[4], as it is the result of a safety assessment for a specific case and has been provided only to support EU decision makers in managing possible consumer health risks.

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[1] Access the Register of Questions database
[2] A threshold is the highest level of pesticide residues that will not exceed the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD) for any of the European consumer groups.
[3] Estimation based on the consumption of 13.1 grams of grapes per kilogram of body weight, the highest table grape consumption (normalised per body weight) identified in European food surveys.
[4] Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) are the upper legal levels of a concentration for pesticide residues in or on food or feed, based on good agricultural practice and the lowest consumer exposure necessary to protect vulnerable consumers.

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