Collection

Pesticide residues in food: results of monitoring programme

Results from the government’s monitoring of pesticide residues in food, reviewed by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF).

The government monitors home-produced and imported food to check for any pesticide residues. We do this in order to check that:

  • no unexpected residues are occurring in crops (this backs up the statutory approvals process for pesticides)
  • residues do not exceed the statutory Maximum Residue Level (MRL)
  • human dietary intakes of residues in foods are within acceptable levels

The Health and Safety Executive carries out the monitoring, with results reviewed by the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF).

About the monitoring programme

All EU countries are required to monitor food for pesticide residues and to carry out a number of specific surveys each year. The foods included in the harmonised programme are tested by all EU member states. The food surveys and the pesticides tested are agreed by member states.

EU countries also have a national monitoring programme. The UK programme ensures all the major components of our national diet are sampled (milk, bread, potatoes, fruit and vegetables, cereals and related products, and animal products). The programme is not designed to provide a representation of residues in our diet – it is risk-based and looks more at those commodities likely to contain residues. Some commodities are surveyed every year, whilst others are surveyed less frequently, for example once every three years.

Samples from retailers (supermarkets, independent shops and market stalls) are bought from across the UK by trained purchasers from a market research company.

The Rural Payment Agency’s Horticultural Marketing Inspectors also collect some of our samples from a range of points in the supply chain, such as wholesale markets, retail depots, ports and import points. The samples they will be collecting varies each year depending on foods being surveyed.

Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Plant Health and Seed Inspectors collect samples of potatoes from a range of points in the supply chain including potato merchants, processors (such as crisp and frozen chip factories) and ports.

We test for a range of pesticides in the following food groups:

  • fruit and vegetables
  • animal products
  • cereal products
  • infant food

Our quarterly reports include full details of the pesticides for which we carry out tests.

Annual monitoring results

Results from monitoring to check food for pesticide residues, including industry data and reports on UK crop sectors.

Quarterly reports

We publish results from the monitoring programme on a quarterly basis. The data from the programme is published on data.gov.uk.

For some surveys, results are processed and published in advance. These form the rolling reporting programme and are also published on data.gov.uk.

Earlier information is available on the National Archives website.

School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

The Department of Health funds the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme as part of the ‘5 a day’ programme to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. The Department of Health commission their own testing.

Earlier results are available on the National Archives website.

Annual reports - Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food (PRiF)

Published 21 December 2015
Last updated 6 September 2018 + show all updates
  1. Added the quarterly monitoring results for 2018.
  2. Added the PRiF 2016 annual report, the monitoring results for quarter 1 2017 and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme results for spring and summer term 2017.
  3. Added School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme 2016 to 2017 results.
  4. Added a new publication, quarterly monitoring results for 2016.
  5. Added the annual monitoring results from 2015, including industry data and reports on UK crop sectors, and the annual report from the Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues in Food.
  6. Added the rolling monitoring results for 2016
  7. Updated with School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme results for 2015.
  8. First published.