On January 12, 2017, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) published an amendment “Proposal P1027-Managing low-level Ag & Vet Chemicals without MRLs” into Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, Schedule 20, Maximum Residue limits. These changes have entered into force immediately.
This amendment sets up the All other food but except animal food commodities MRLs for 19 agriculture and veterinary (AgVet) chemicals currently listed in the Code. These changes are intended to manage the low level inadvertent AgVet chemicals in all other foods except animal food commodities. This regulation applies to Australia only.
Other countries, like Canada, New Zealand, European Union and Japan adopted the default MRL to address the problem of low level inadvertent AgVet chemicals in food commodities and avoid the application of “zero tolerance”. Current food standards for Australia specify that if there is no MRL established for certain food commodities in Schedule 20, it is considered that no residues of such AgVet chemicals (zero tolerance) should be detected in food commodities. However, due to some other factors such as spray drift, AgVet chemical residues might get detected in food commodities.
Canada and New Zealand set up the value of default MRL at 0.1 mg/kg; European and Japan set up at 0.01 mg/kg. Australia has developed “All other food but except animal food commodities MRLs” approach to address the problem of low level inadvertent AgVet chemicals residue. Difference from the default MRL is that the FSANZ sets up All other foods except animal food commodities MRLs case by case according to the risk assessment approach. The default MRL is not based on dietary exposure assessments for agvet chemicals.
Why do updated MRLs for AgVet chemicals exclude the animal food commodities?
In general, MRLs for animal food commodities are lower than the MRLs for plant food commodities. If the MRLs value setting includes both the animal food and plant food commodities, it could have following two situations. Either the MRLs value could be set as low as the MRLs for animal food commodities, the MRLs value would be too low to capture inadvertent residue of agvet chemicals in plant commodities; or the MRLs value could be set as high as the MRLs for plant food commodities, the MRLs could be higher than the already existing MRLs for animal commodities. Neither two ways are appropriate for MRLs setting; therefore, the animal food commodities are excluded from this new MRL category.
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