Latest Revision Date (dd/mm/yyyy): 01/06/2013

Control of pesticide residues in plant and animal products intended for human consumption

In order to ensure a high level of consumer protection, imports of plant and animal products or parts thereof intended for human consumption in or on which residues of pesticides may be present, are only permitted when complying with guarantees laid down by EU legislation designed to control the presence of chemical substances and residues thereof in live animals, animal products and products of plant origin.

The placing on the market of these products is covered by two main Directives:

Animals and animal products

Council Directive 96/23/EC (OJ L-125 23/05/1996) (CELEX 31996L0023) outlines the procedure to evaluate whether when importing animals and animal products, the guarantees on residues of chemical substances presented by a third country can be deemed equivalent to those requested to the products produced under EU rules.

Such products shall only be imported from authorised countries included in the list published in Commission Decision 2011/163/EU (OJ L-70 17/03/2011) (CELEX 32011D0163). Inclusion and retention on this list shall be subject to submission by the third country concerned of a plan setting out the guarantees which it offers as regards the monitoring of the groups of residues and substances referred to in Annex I to the Directive.

Plants, plant products and their protection

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L-309 24/11/2009) (CELEX 32009R1107) lays down rules and procedures for active substances to be marketed in the EU and for the authorisation by Member States of plant protection products containing them. Active substances cannot be used in plant protection products unless they are included in a positive EU list. Such substances are included in the EU Pesticide Database. Once a substance is included in the list, Member States may authorise the use of products which contain it.

Control of pesticide residues in the EU: the maximum residue levels (MRLs)

As from 1 September 2008, Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L-70 16/03/2005) (CELEX 32005R0396) defines a fully harmonised set of rules for pesticide residues. This Regulation lays down provisions for the setting of EU pesticide maximum residue levels (MRLs) in food and feed.

Imports of plant and animal products must comply with such MRLs set by the European Commission to protect consumers from exposure to unacceptable levels of pesticide residues.

Annexes to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council set out the list of products subject to control and MRLs applicable to them:

  • The list of products to which the MRLs apply has been established in Annex I, which includes animal products, fruits, vegetables, cereals, spices and certain edible plants.
  • The list of EU definitive MRLs is laid down in Annex II.
  • The so-called EU temporary MRLs (pesticides for which, before 1 September 2008, MRLs were only set at national level), are listed in Annex III.
  • The list of pesticides for which no MRLs are needed because of their low risk is included in Annex IV.
  • Annex V, which will contain the list of pesticides for which a default limit other than 0,01 mg/kg will apply and Annex VI, which will contain the list of conversion factors of MRLs for processed commodities, have not been published yet.
  • Annex VII contains a list of pesticides used as fumigants for which the Member States are allowed to apply special derogations before the products are placed on the market.

Specific information on the substances and the MRLs included in the lists of Annexes II, III and IV is available at the EU Pesticide Database.

Member State authorities are responsible for the control and enforcement of the MRLs. Such control will be carried out by means of a coordinated multiannual Community control programme of pesticide residues in food of plant and animal origin established by Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 788/2012 (OJ L-235 01/09/2012) (CELEX 32012R0788). According to this scheme, during the years 2013, 2014 and 2015, national reference laboratories for detecting residues in the Member States, shall take and analyse samples for the product/pesticide residue combinations set out in the Regulation.

Furthermore, according to the provisions of Commission Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 (OJ L-194 25/07/2009) (CELEX 32009R0669), official controls of the presence of hazardous substances on certain commodities of non-animal origin from selected third countries laid down in such Regulation have been increased and shall be carried out.


  • Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC(OJ L-309 24/11/2009) (CELEX 32009R1107)
  • Council Directive 96/23/EC of 29 April 1996 on measures to monitor certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and animal products and repealing Directives 85/358/EEC and 86/469/EEC and Decisions 89/187/EEC and 91/664/EEC (OJ L-125 23/05/1996) (CELEX 31996L0023)
  • Commission Decision 2011/163/EU of 16 March 2011 on the approval of plans submitted by third countries in accordance with Article 29 of Council Directive 96/23/EC (OJ L-70 17/03/2011) (CELEX 32011D0163)
  • Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 February 2005 on maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides in products of plant and animal origin (OJ L-70 16/03/2005) (CELEX 32005R0396)
  • Commission Regulation (EC) No 669/2009 of 24 July 2009 implementing Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the increased level of official controls on imports of certain feed and food of non-animal origin and amending Decision 2006/504/EC (OJ L-194 25/07/2009) (CELEX 32009R0669)
  • Commission Decision 98/536/EC of 3 September 1998 establishing the list of national reference laboratories for the detection of residues (OJ L-251 11/09/1998) (CELEX 31998D0536)
  • Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 788/2012 of 31 August 2012 concerning a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2013, 2014 and 2015 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin(OJ L-235 01/09/2012) (CELEX 32012R0788)

Other information sources

Additional information for the Netherlands

Competent authorities / competent bodies

  • Nederlandse Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit - NVWA (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority)
    Postbus 43006
    NL-3540 AA Utrecht
    Tel: (+31) 88 223 33 33
    Fax: (+31) 88 223 33 34
  • College voor de Toelating van Gewasbeschermingsmiddelen en Biociden - CTGB (Board for the Authorisation of Plant Protection Products and Biocides)
    P.O. Box 217
    NL-6700 AE Wageningen
    Tel: +31 317 471810
    Fax: +31 317 471899


  • Besluit inzake het in de handel brengen van dieren en producten en de toepassing van maatregelen met betrekking tot in Nederland gebrachte dieren en producten (Decree of 04/05/1994 regulating the placing on the market of animals and products of animal origin and imports of animals and products of animal origin into the Netherlands, stb 1994, 434).
  • Gezondheids- en welzijnswet voor dieren (Animal health and welfare act of 24/09/1992, stb. 1992, 585)
  • Warenwetbesluit Invoer levensmiddelen uit derde landen (Import of foodstuffs from third countries - Decree within the framework of the Commidities Act of 13/12/1993, stb 1993, 698)
  • Wet gewasbeschermingsmiddelen en biociden (Law on Plant Protection Products and Biocides of 17/02/2007, stb 2007, 125)