The FSSAI has published a draft of Guidance Document & Standard Operating Procedures for fixing Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) of pesticides in food commodities.

The Guidance Document-SOP comprises of 10 sections prescribing necessities for framing the Guidelines and its significance, SOP regarding generation of residue data in line with the Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) including number of trials to be conducted, plot size, crop variety, locations and pesticide application.

Furthermore, the document prescribes the sampling and residue analysis, metabolism studies in MRL fixation and the norms for risk assessment keeping in mind the most recent international procedures for utilization of GAP and critical GAP (cGAP) data in (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD) MRL calculator and the utilization of monitoring data of India for MRL fixation on spices.

As per the FSSAI, the review group has suggested the pre harvest interval (PHI) on vegetables and fruits as 3 and 15 days, respectively. The average body weight as per existing practice to be 50 kg on the basis of Indian studies while implementation of average food consumption factor partly moderated from the latest National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) data.

The document also explains dietary exposure of pesticide residues to human beings on the basis of consumption of various food commodities, hazard identification, risk characterization and details of the commodities that are processed prior to consumption and extrapolation of MRL from the Raw Agriculture Commodity to the processed products.

This document also encompasses information on crop grouping of extrapolation for MRL and fixation of MRL on animal feed, meat, milk, offals and eggs.

FSSAI states that the presence of pesticide residues in food was a major concern for consumer safety and food trade. The Scientific Panel on Residues of Pesticides and Antibiotics of FSSAI in its 36th meeting held on 21st May, 2015, prescribed the constitution of a working group to document these norms. The working group has been meeting regularly since 2015.

And after numerous rounds of discussions the Review Group submitted its report to the Scientific Panel in its 51st Meeting held on 10th April, 2018. The comments of the Review Group were assessed in detail by the Scientific Panel on Pesticide Residues in its several meetings. Depending on the comments of the Review Group and advices and comments offered by the members of the panel, the Standard Operating Procedures on fixation of Maximum Residue Limits was designed.

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