Pesticides have significant implications for the food industry. They are widely used by food producers, but have a sensitive public profile and can attract adverse consumer perceptions. Much of the regulatory framework for pesticides is set at European Community (EC) level.
Pesticides used on food produced in the United Kingdom (UK) must be approved by Ministers. The Chemicals Regulation Directorate (CRD) of HSE (previously the Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD)) is the regulatory authority which issues these approvals. You can find out about approved pesticides in the UK on this website.
When pesticides are used, small amounts (residues) may remain in food. There are legal limits on the levels of residues which are permitted when food is put into circulation in the UK. These are known as Maximum Residue Levels or (MRLs). MRLs apply both to food produced in the UK and to food imported from other countries.
Food Safety: Residues in food
Monitoring of Pesticide Residues
The Pesticide Residues Committee (PRC) monitors levels of residues in home-produced and imported food. It is Government policy to brand-name suppliers of food which is found to exceed MRLs. The European Commission co-ordinates the distribution of food alerts where food is found to contain residues at levels which give rise to health concerns. Separate legislation on pesticide residues in processed baby foods is implemented by the Food Standards Agency.
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