STC Number - 264

Maximum residue levels for Ethephon in pineapple

Maintained by: European Union
Raised by: Ecuador
Supported by: Costa Rica
First date raised: April 2008 G/SPS/R/49, paras. 21-23
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: G/SPS/GEN/841/Rev.1; RD/SPS/28/Rev.1
Products covered: 0804 Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes and mangosteens, fresh or dried.

Ethephon in pineapple
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization
Status: Partially resolved
Solution: Information was received from Ecuador on the partial resolution of this STC.
Date reported as resolved: 02/11/2017

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In April 2008, Ecuador noted its concern about possible modification of the EC maximum residue levels (MRLs) for Ethephon, particularly in pineapple. The European Communities was currently using the Codex standards, but a re-evaluation of these MRLs by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had resulted in a lowering of the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) levels. EFSA was now reviewing MRLs in pineapple, and proposing that these be reduced from 2 mg to 0.05, which was the limit of detection. Ecuador considered that the risk assessment was not based on adequate scientific evidence nor on the Codex standard. This change could have serious socio-economic consequences.
Costa Rica noted that it was also analyzing the effect of this new limit on Costa Rica's exports, and asked to be informed of further discussions on this matter.
The European Communities noted that producers and the plant protection industry in the European Communities shared the concerns of Ecuador and Costa Rica. They had expressed concerns that the reduction in MRLs was excessive and not sufficiently science-based, which showed that there was no protectionist intent. However, in the interest of food safety it was sometimes necessary to set limits that created problems for producers, and Ethephon was an example of this. EFSA had carried out an extremely thorough evaluation of the substance, in particular in light of its importance, which had led to the recommendation to set more rigorous limits. The EC authorities were in correspondence with both Ecuador and Costa Rica, and invited them to present their scientific evidence that the direction taken by the European Communities was wrong. Such evidence would be taken into account in other cases as well; in the past the European Communities had accepted such requests to review its risk assessments. The European Communities would explore every opportunity to be flexible in how this new MRL was applied to imports.

In November 2017, the Secretariat informed that in September 2017 it had contacted all Members who had raised specific trade concerns (STCs) that had not been discussed in the previous year, to request an update on their status. In furtherance of this request, information was received from Ecuador on the partial resolution of this STC. The Secretariat indicated that the information received had been circulated in document RD/SPS/28 of 31 October 2017, and that the SPS IMS would be updated on this basis, using the date of the November 2017 SPS Committee meeting as the date of resolution of the relevant STCs.