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EFSA’s contribution to the implementation of the EU legislation on pesticide residues in food

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Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Scientific achievements, challenges and perspectives of the European Food Safety Authority: Taking stock of the 10 years activities and looking ahead


The active involvement of EFSA in the area of pesticide residues assessment started in 2006 following the adoption of new legislation on maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides in food (Regulation (EC) No 396/2005). EFSA took on a new role as an independent risk assessment body in the process of MRL setting, providing important contributions in the EU-wide harmonisation of MRLs. With the development of a risk assessment model (EFSA PRIMo) the risk assessment process has become more transparent. EFSA is now involved in all routine MRL setting processes by giving advice to the risk managers and, so far, has given recommendations on ca. 1 200 MRLs. EFSA also provides other scientific assessments, in many cases where urgent advice is needed due to unexpected incidences which require immediate risk management action. Currently, high priority is given to the systematic MRL review, which involves making a comprehensive inventory of the scientific studies and performing risk assessments for the pesticides covered by this programme. Another major task for EFSA is the drafting of the Annual Report on Pesticide Residues, which gives an overview of the pesticide residues in food available to European consumers. EFSA has revised the data collection of monitoring results to allow more powerful data analysis to identify potential consumer risks and weak points in the food production system, and to develop strategies for improvements. EFSA places major emphasis on risk communication on topics related to pesticide residues, which is an integral part of EFSA’s tasks as risk assessor. Building on the achievements of the last six years, future challenges for EFSA include the continued improvement of risk assessment methodologies (updating risk assessment models, developing new methodologies for cumulative risk assessment) and the timely provision of risk assessments for MRL applications and MRL reviews.

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