The Monitoring and Controls Programme

The Pesticide Residues Laboratory, part of the Food Chemistry Division, oversees a monitoring programme to check food and drink in Ireland for traces of pesticide residues.  It is very important that food meets the legal trading standards for pesticide residues therefore, approximately 1,500 samples are analysed annually for upwards of 460 pesticides and metabolites.

The main purpose of the monitoring programme is to check whether pesticide residues in food and drink are found above the maximum residue levels (MRLs) that are set at EU level.  If residues are found above the MRL, we assess whether the levels found are likely to impact on human health.  In particular we assess whether residues might be of concern to vulnerable groups of consumers, such as babies, toddlers and the elderly.  If more than one pesticide is found with similar modes of action, we assess if the impact of the sum of the residues is of concern.  If there is a problem enforcement action is taken, including focused testing and if necessary the destruction of the commodity.

Organic samples are also tested as part of our monitoring programme.  Organic operators are allowed to use a limited number of approved pesticides where other methods of control are inadequate to prevent damage by pests, diseases and weeds.

PCL carries out analyses on behalf of a number of customers including the Pesticide Registration and Controls Division (PRCD), Veterinary Medicines Division, Dairy Control & Certification, and Feedingstuffs, Fertilisers, Grain Marketing, Pigs & Poultry Division.  This work forms part of a service contract between the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) with the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).  The pesticide residue monitoring programme is agreed with the FSAI on an annual basis.  The results of the monitoring programme are published annually.

How is testing carried out?

Measuring Residue Levels

Annual Reports - Pesticide Residues in Food

Unapproved Uses

Import Tolerances

Import Controls

The Main Pesticide Types