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/236, G/SPS/N/EEC/237, G/SPS/N/EEC/243
Products covered: Food.
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Maximum residue limits (MRLs); Sufficiency of scientific evidence
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2004, China raised concerns that the maximum residue limits (MRLs) notified in G/SPS/N/EEC/236 and 237 were several times higher than the MRLs proposed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and by other developed countries. He requested that the European Communities provide scientific justification for its measures or modify the MRLs according to relevant international standards. In addition, China requested that the European Communities 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 informed the Committee that he had been prepared to address China's concerns on notification G/SPS/N/EEC/243, which was indicated in the draft agenda, and was not prepared to provide specific answers to China's concerns on the notifications G/SPS/N/EEC/236 and 237. However, a written detailed reply would be sent to China shortly. The representative of 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 MRL standards 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.

The Chair asked the European Communities to submit an addendum to clarify the dates on the concerned notifications for the benefit of Members not present in the meeting.