STC Number - 191

Maximum residue levels for pesticides on food

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: China
Supported by:
First date raised: June 2004 G/SPS/R/34, paras. 49-51
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/N/EEC/243
Products covered:
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

China raised concerns that the maximum residue limits (MRLs) notified in G/SPS/N/EEC/236 and 237 were several times lower than the MRLs proposed by other developed countries and by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The European Communities were requested to provide scientific justification for its measures or modify the MRLs according to relevant international standards. In addition, the European Communities were requested to extend the time period for implementation of the measure from the date of adoption to one year and provide China with the testing methods for the concerned MRLs.
The European Communities stated that it was prepared to address China's concerns on notification G/SPS/N/EEC/243, as indicated in the draft agenda, but was not prepared to provide specific answers to China's concerns on the notifications G/SPS/N/EEC/236 and 237. However, a detailed written reply would be sent to China shortly. The European Communities clarified that the proposed date of entry into force in notifications G/SPS/N/EEC/236 and 237 should read 19 January 2005 instead of 19 January 2004. Furthermore, some of the Codex MRLs mentioned by China were proposed for revocation at the next meeting of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. EC MRLs for pesticide quantities in foodstuffs were higher than international standards in four cases: (1) phyto pharmaceutical products which did not lead to detectable levels of pesticides residues in foodstuffs; (2) unauthorized use of the pesticides; (3) EC authorizations which were unsupported by technical and scientific evidence; and (4) residues present in imported foods without sufficient scientific evidence indicating their food safety. In this case, the European Communities undertook its own assessment and was also willing to consider data submitted by the exporting country.