Ministry of Agriculture
Food, Crop & Livestock Safety
- Pesticide Residues in Food
- Canadian Maximum Residue Limits
- International Maximum Residue Limits
- Pesticide Residues in Feed
Pesticide application to crops and animals may leave residues in or on food when it is sold. Therefore, Health Canada carefully evaluates pesticides before they can be used in Canada and establishes the amount of residues that can be on crops at harvest or animals at slaughter. The levels are called maximum residue limits (MRL). They can range from zero to a few parts per million (ppm). For more information on MRLs, please refer to the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) website: Maximum Residue Limits for Pesticides.
Crops and livestock should not have pesticide residues greater than the MRL if pesticides are applied according to label information. The application rates and timing on pesticide labels is carefully calculated so that residues will be less than the MRL when crops are harvested or animals are slaughtered.
Canadian MRL's are listed on the Health Canada website at the following link.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) checks both domestic and imported commodities for pesticide residues when they are sold in Canada. If residues are more than the MRL the commodity may be seized. The CFIA posts a list of non-compliance. To view a recent list, follow the link below:
Other countries set their own maximum residue limits (MRL). Canadian produce exported to other countries must comply with the importing countries MRLs. Before shipping products to other countries know what pesticide residues are allowed in that country. Check with the Agricultural Attache at the Canadian Embassy in the country the produce will be exported to for their most recent residue limits.
- US EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Web Site - Information on USA tolerances (MRLs)
- USDA FASonline - International Maximum Residue Limit Database
- European Union - EU MRLs sorted by pesticide
- Japanese maximum residue limits - The Japan Food Chemical Research Foundation
Some countries may use the CODEX standards. Information on the CODEX residue limits is located on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO UN) site at the following link:
Pesticide application to feed crops may leave residues in or on animal feed. When eaten by livestock, the residues enter the animal and may affect the animal or remain in food. Therefore, Health Canada carefully evaluates pesticides before they can be used in Canada on feed crops and establishes the amount of residues that can be on crops at harvest. Federal legislation prohibits the sale of feed containing unsafe feed crops. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) administers a national livestock feed program which verifies that livestock feeds manufactured and sold in Canada or imported into Canada are safe, effective and are labeled appropriately. The CFIA program includes monitoring feeds for the presence of residues of chemicals, pesticides, and other contaminants.
Pesticide residues in or on feed should not harm livestock or result in food residues greater than the MRL if the pesticides are applied according to label information. The application rates, timing and restrictions on pesticide labels are carefully established so residues will not harm livestock or exceed the MRL at slaughter.