Scientific opinion on pesticides in foods for infants and young children
Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Plant Protection Products and their Residues (PPR Panel) prepared a scientific opinion to provide a comprehensive evaluation of pesticide residues in foods for infants and young children. In its approach to develop this scientific opinion, the EFSA PPR Panel took into account, among the others, (i) the relevant opinions of the Scientific Committee for Food setting a default maximum residue level (MRL) of 0.01 mg/kg for pesticide residues in foods for infants and young children; (ii) the recommendations provided by EFSA Scientific Committee in a guidance on risk assessment of substances present in food intended for infants below 16 weeks of age; (iii) the knowledge on organ/system development in infants and young children. For infants below 16 weeks of age, the EFSA PPR Panel concluded that pesticide residues at the default MRL of 0.01 mg/kg for food for infants and young children are not likely to result in an unacceptable exposure for active substances for which a health-based guidance value (HBGV) of 0.0026 mg/kg body weight (bw) per day or higher applies. Lower MRLs are recommended for active substances with HBGVs below this value. For infants above 16 weeks of age and young children, the established approach for setting HBGVs is considered appropriate. For infants below 16 weeks of age the approach may not be appropriate and the application of the EFSA guidance on risk assessment of substances present in food intended for infants below 16 weeks of age is recommended. The contribution of conventional food to the total exposure to pesticide residues is much higher than that from foods intended for infants and young children. Because of the increased intake of conventional food by young children, these have the highest exposure to pesticide residues, whereas infants 3–6 months of age generally have lower exposure. The impact of cumulative exposure to pesticide residues on infants and young children is not different from the general population and the EFSA cumulative risk assessment methodology is also applicable to these age groups. Residue definitions established under Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 are in general considered appropriate also for foods for infants and young children. However, based on a tier 1 analysis of the hydrolysis potential of pesticides simulating processing, the particular appropriateness of existing residue definitions for monitoring to cover processed food, both intended for infants and young children as well as conventional food, is questionable.