Pesticide Residues in Food and Feed

Glossary of Terms

This page contains explanatory text of terms commonly used in this database.

Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI)
"ADI" of a chemical is the daily intake which, during an entire lifetime, appears to be without appreciable risk to the health of the consumer on the basis of all the known facts at the time of the evaluation of the chemical by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues. It is expressed in milligrams of the chemical per kilogram of body weight. (Note: For additional information on ADIs relative to pesticide residues refer to the Report of the 1975 Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues, FAO Plant Production and Protection Series No.1 or WHO Technical Report Series No. 592).
Extraneous Maximum Residue Limit (EMRL)
"EMRL" refers to a pesticide residue or a contaminant arising from environmental sources (including former agricultural uses) other than the use of a pesticide or contaminant substance directly or indirectly on the commodity. It is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue or contaminant that is recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to be legally permitted or recognized as acceptable in or on a food, agricultural commodity, or animal feed. The concentration is expressed in milligrams of pesticide residue or contaminant per kilogram of the commodity.
Good Agricultural Practice in the Use of Pesticides (GAP)
"GAP" includes the nationally authorised safe uses of pesticides under actual conditions necessary for effective and reliable pest control. It encompasses a range of levels of pesticide applications up to the highest authorised use, applied in a manner which leaves a residue which is the smallest amount practicable. Authorised safe uses are determined at the national level and include nationally registered or recommended uses, which take into account public and occupational health and environmental safety considerations. Actual conditions include any stage in the production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of food commodities and animal feed.
Limit of Determination
"Limit of determination" is the lowest concentration of a pesticide residue or contaminant that can be identified and quantitatively measured in a specified food, agricultural commodity, or animal feed with an acceptable degree of certainty by a regulatory method of analysis.
Maximum Residue Limit (MRL)
"MRL" is the maximum concentration of a pesticide residue (expressed as mg/kg), recommended by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to be legally permitted in or in food commodities and animal feeds. MRLs are based on GAP data and foods derived from commodities that comply with the respective MRLs are intended to be toxicologically acceptable.

Codex MRLs which are primarily intended to apply in international trade, are derived from estimations made by the JMPR following:

a) toxicological assessment of the pesticide and its residue; and

b) review of residue data from supervised trials and supervised uses including those reflecting national food agricultural practices. Data from supervised trials conducted at the highest nationally recommended, authorised or registered uses are included in the review. In order to accommodate variations in national pest control requirements, Codex MRLs take into account the higher levels shown to arise in such supervised trials, which are considered to represent effective pest control practices.

Consideration of the various dietary residue estimates and determinations both at the national and international level in comparison with the ADI, should indicate that foods complying with Codex MRLs are safe for human consumption.
Pesticide
"Pesticide" means any substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling, or controlling any pest including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution, and processing of food, agricultural commodities, or animal feeds or which may be administered to animals for the control of ectoparasites. The term includes substances intended for use as a plant-growth regulator, defoliant, desiccant, fruit thinning agent, or sprouting inhibitor and substances applied to crops either before or after harvest to protect the commodity from deterioration during storage and transport. The term normally excludes fertilizers, plant and animal nutrients, food additives and animal drugs. (Note: "Agricultural commodities" refers to commodities such as raw cereals, sugar beet, and cottonseed which might not, in the general sense, be considered food).
Pesticide Residue
"Pesticide residue" means any specified substances in food, agricultural commodities, or animal feed resulting from the use of a pesticide. The term includes any derivatives of a pesticide, such as conversion products, metabolites, reaction products, and impurities considered to be of toxicological significance. (Note: The term "pesticide residue" includes residues from unknown or unavoidable sources (e.g., environmental), as well as known uses of the chemical).
Provisional Tolerable daily Intake (PTDI)
A value based on toxicological data. It represents tolerable human intake of a former agricultural pesticide that may occur as a contaminant in food, drinking water and the environment. (Report of 1995 JMPR, FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper 127, p. 5)
Temporary Acceptable Daily Intake
"Temporary ADI" is an acceptable daily intake established for a specified, limited period to enable additional biochemical, toxicological or other data to be obtained as may be required for estimating an acceptable daily intake. (Note: A TADI estimated by the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues normally involves the application of a safety factor larger than that used in estimating an ADI).

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