Pesticide residues are monitored throughout Europe as part of a monitoring programme that is obligatory for all member states due to European Commission regulations. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regularly produces reports from the data gathered in European states, which on the one hand serve to provide information on contamination of foodstuffs available in the EU. On the other, this data can be used to asses any possible hazards to consumers and to counteract these, e.g. by amending the existing maximum limits.
The monitoring programme will run for several years and is internationally coordinated. European states draw up national monitoring programmes that have monitoring checks integrated within them as part of the EU monitoring programme. In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, AGES has designed a sampling plan for the implementation of EU monitoring in Austria. This specifies in detail which foodstuffs are to be sampled and to what extent, in order to obtain a realistic picture of the actual situation by means of testing. In addition, statistically generated food consumption data, availability of foodstuffs through production and import, and experience from previous monitoring programmes were all taken into account.
Sampling is carried out all over Austria by inspectors from the regional official food supervisory authorities (federal state authorities). As well as foodstuffs from conventional production, foodstuffs from organic farming are also monitored. Since the use of synthetic pesticides is prohibited for the latter, “organic” foodstuffs are not permitted to contain any pesticide residues.
Links to the reports: EU’s 2013 annual report on pesticides and 2013 national pesticide monitoring Programme (in German).