2010-2011 Pesticides in Intra-Provincially Traded Fresh Vegetables

Executive Summary

The Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP) aims to modernize and enhance Canada's food safety system. As a part of the FSAP enhanced surveillance initiative, targeted surveys are used to test various foods for specific hazards.

The main objectives of the pesticides in intra-provincially traded fresh vegetables targeted survey were to:

  • generate baseline surveillance data for pesticide residues in corn, tomatoes, potatoes, leafy greens and carrots sold intra-provincially;
  • enable comparison of pesticide residue levels in leafy greens and tomatoes with results of the 2009-2010 FSAP Pesticides in Fresh Fruits and Vegetables survey; and
  • enable comparison of pesticide residue levels in carrots, corn, leafy greens, potatoes, and tomatoes to complementary 2010-2011 National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP) data.

This survey targeted fresh vegetables that are traded intra-provincially (i.e. foods sold within the province in which they are produced/grown). The 2010-2011 FSAP Pesticide survey targeted intra-provincially traded carrots, corn, leafy greens (e.g., lettuce), potatoes, and tomatoes. In total, 1024 samples of intra-provincially traded fresh vegetables (257 carrot, 130 corn, 213 leafy green, 259 potato, and 165 tomato samples) were collected in eight of the ten provinces and were analyzed for over 430 different pesticide residues.

All of the corn samples were compliant with existing Canadian maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides.

For tomatoes analyzed in this survey, 99.4% were compliant with existing MRLs for pesticides. One tomato sample contained a pesticide residue which exceeded the specific MRL for tomatoes.

For the potatoes analyzed in this survey, 99.2% were compliant with existing MRLs for pesticides. Two samples of potatoes each contained a pesticide residue which exceeded the specific MRL for potatoes.

For the leafy greens analyzed in this survey, 97.7% were compliant with existing MRLs for pesticides. A total of five samples (six violative residues in total) exceeded existing MRLs. Four of these samples of leafy greens contained a single pesticide residue each in violation of the general 0.1 parts per million (ppm) MRL (as specified in the Food and Drug Regulations). One sample contained two pesticide residues in violation of the general 0.1 ppm MRL.

For carrots analyzed in this survey, 97.7% were compliant with existing MRLs for pesticides. Six samples of carrots contained one pesticide residue each in violation of the general 0.1 ppm MRL.

The overall compliance rate for pesticides in this survey was 98.6%. The survey results were compared commodity by commodity to 2010-2011 data from the CFIA's NCRMP. The compliance rate for corn (100%), tomatoes (99.4%) and potatoes (99.2%) in the current survey were the same as the compliance rates for these commodities under the NCRMP. The compliance rate for leafy greens was higher in the current survey (97.7%) than under the NCRMP (91.4%). The compliance rate for carrots in the current survey (97.7%) was similar to the compliance rate for carrots under the NCRMP (98.1%).

In this survey, there were 14 violative samples (with 15 violative residues, as one sample had two violative residues). All violations were assessed and appropriate follow-up action was pursued. Exposure to the levels of pesticides detected in this survey is not expected to pose a human health concern to consumers.

The complete text of this report is available upon request.

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