About 98% of fruit, vegetables in Dutch shops meets MRL standards
This is according to a study of the NVWA, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, between January 2014 and December 2015.
When products from outside the EU repeatedly show they are exceeding MRL, strict import monitoring regimes are implemented.
This usually leads to additional efforts of market parties to better meet requirements. For Chinese pomelos, Peruvian grapes and Kenyan beans, for example, the number of exceedances decreased so much that the strict EU monitoring regime for these products could be abolished.
The NVWA then established, through market research, that even after lifting the strict regime the products continued to meet requirements. However, several products from Vietnam and Cambodia, among other countries, were added to this monitoring regime.
How much residue of pesticides is allowed on fruits and vegetables is legally determined by the so-called Maximum Residue Limit, or MRL.
Member states decide together on these MRLs at EU level, taking very large safety margins into account. When exceeding the MRL, they calculate whether the health standard, or ARfD, is exceeded or not.
The NVWA monitors at random whether the MRLs are met. To this end, the NVWA analyses approximately 4,500 samples of fruits and vegetables from all over the world annually. Part of the random check represents a product or product group, and part is sampled risk-driven.
When the health standard is not exceeded but has the MRL, a fine or warning follows. If it is an import product from outside of the EU, NVWA prohibits the import of said product.
For exceeding the health standard, not just a fine is given, but, if possible, the batch is taken from trade and destroyed. Similar cases in batches of fruits and vegetables are reported to other EU member states via the European Rapid Alert System (RASFF).
NVWA continues with the already implemented policy: fewer controls on products from the Netherlands and EU member states and more controls on fruit and vegetables from outside the EU, with special attention to specific countries and products.
By monitoring more on the external borders of the EU, products not meeting the food safety requirements are less likely to enter Europe. ■