FDA reports pesticide residue levels remain low 

By David Fairfield, Senior Vice President, Feed

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its annual Pesticide Residue Monitoring Program Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 on Oct. 20. 

During FY 2019 – the time period between Oct. 1, 2018 through Sept. 30, 2019 – FDA tested for 812 pesticides and industrial chemicals across 4,692 samples of human and animal food. Results in the report demonstrate that levels of pesticide residues in the U.S. food supply are well below tolerances set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), consistent with the trend of low levels of pesticide residue violations found by FDA over the past eight years of testing. 

For human food, FDA in FY 2019 tested 4,327 samples. FDA found that 98.7 percent of the 1,258 domestic and 89.1 percent of the 3,069 imported samples were in compliance with federal pesticide residue standards. FDA also found no pesticide chemical residues in 42.4 percent of domestic and 49.4 percent of imported human food samples. FDA considers a food to be in violation of federal standards when it has pesticide chemical residues above the EPA tolerance, residues of pesticides that have no EPA tolerance, or residues of pesticides that do not have a tolerance exemption for that specific pesticide/commodity combination.

For animal food, FDA tested 365 samples. FDA found that 98.4 percent of the 127 domestic and 95.4 percent of the 238 imported samples were in compliance. FDA also found no pesticide chemical residues in 40.9 percent of the domestic and 43.7 percent of the imported animal food samples.

FDA has issued annual reports related to its pesticide residue monitoring program since 1987. Reports from 1993 to the present are available on FDA’s report and data webpage. In addition, FDA’s questions and answers webpage provides more information about the program.