2011-2012 Pesticides and Metals in Intra-Provincially Traded Fresh Fruits

Executive Summary

Targeted surveys are used by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to both support the prioritization of the Agency's activities to areas of greater concern and provide scientific evidence to address areas of lesser concern. Originally started under the Food Safety Action Plan (FSAP), targeted surveys are a valuable tool for generating essential information on certain hazards in foods, identifying/characterizing new and emerging hazards, informing trend analysis, prompting/refining human health risk assessments, assessing compliance with Canadian regulations, highlighting potential contamination issues, and promoting compliance.

The main objectives of the pesticides and metals in intra-provincially traded fresh fruits targeted survey were to:

  • generate baseline surveillance data for pesticide residues and metals in cherries, grapes, pears and small berries, grown and sold in the same province;
  • compare pesticide residue levels in small berries with results of the 2009-2010 FSAP Pesticides in Fresh Fruits and Vegetables survey; and
  • compare and contrast pesticide residue and metal levels to those reported for domestically produced, inter-provincially traded and imported foods in the same growing season as reported under the 2010-2012 National Chemical Residue Monitoring Program (NCRMP).

This survey targeted cherries, grapes, pears and small berries that are traded intra-provincially (foods sold within the province in which they are grown). In total, 435 samples of fresh fruits (84 cherry, 37 grape, 56 pear, and 258 small berries) were collected in eight of the ten provinces and were analyzed for over 400 different pesticide residues.

The overall compliance rate for pesticides in this survey was 96.6%. The cherry, grape and pear samples were 100% compliant with existing Canadian maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides. Most (94.2%) of the small berries were compliant with existing MRLs for pesticides. The survey results were compared by commodity to 2010-2012 data from the CFIA's NCRMP (same growing season for FSAP and NRCMP implies similar climatic conditions, pest pressures and pesticide usage). The compliance rate for cherries (100%), grapes (100%), pears (100%) and small berries (94.2%) were somewhat higher in the current survey than the compliance rates for these commodities under the NCRMP (95.7% for cherries, 97.0% for grapes, 98.5% for pears, 93.6% for small berries).

A total of 434 fruit samples were analyzed for arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead.  In general, the results for all four of the metals of concern were similar to the values reported in the 2010-2012 NCRMP.

In this survey, there were 15 violative samples - all were blackberry samples containing captan; three of these samples also contained cypermethrin. All violations were assessed and appropriate follow-up actions reflecting the magnitude of the health risk were taken.

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