2011-2012 Pesticides in Finished Grains and Grain Products

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 objective of this targeted survey was to generate baseline data regarding the presence and levels of pesticide residues in selected finished grains and grain products (specifically corn, oat, rice, wheat, and other grains) available on the Canadian retail market.

A total of 418 domestic and imported samples were collected from Canadian retail stores between June 2011 and March 2012. Samples included 83 corn, 86 oat, 84 rice, 135 wheat, and 30 other grain products. These samples were analyzed for over 430 different pesticide residues consisting mainly of insecticides and fungicides. One hundred eight of the samples were labelled as being organic products. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency monitors food as sold rather than as consumed, therefore samples were not cooked/prepared prior to analysis. As such, the results presented should only be interpreted as foods available as sold and not as they would be consumed.

In total, 99.8% of the samples analyzed in this survey were compliant with existing Canadian Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides. Pesticide residues were not detected in 382 of 418 (91.4%) samples. Thirty-six samples had either one or two pesticide residues; four of these samples were labelled as organic products. Only one sample in this survey (a sample of quinoa) was in violation of the Canadian General MRL of 0.1 parts per million (ppm); however, this was not expected to pose an unacceptable human health concern. Appropriate follow-up actions were initiated that reflected the magnitude of the human health concern. No product recalls were warranted given the lack of a health concern.

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