Pesticides can be used in both conventional and organic production of fresh fruits and vegetables. Any pesticide used in Canada, or on a product destined for the Canadian marketplace must be approved by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency, and must be in compliance with the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) that is indicated for the individual product and pesticide.
Pesticides must undergo a rigorous regulatory clearance process by the government before being allowed for use. The proper use of pesticides is monitored through federal government evaluation programs which include chemical residue testing. In their 2005/2006 Annual Report, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) reports testing 10,596 samples of domestic produce and 17,910 samples of imported fresh fruits and vegetables for pesticide residue. According to this data, no residues were detected in 9,251 of the tests (87.31%). There were 1,301 positive results that were compliant with Canadian standards (12.28%). There were 44 positive results that exceeded Canadian standards and were identified as violations (0.42%). The overall compliance rate for pesticides in domestic fresh fruits and vegetables was 99.58%. For imported product, no residues were detected in 15,391 of the tests (85.94%). There were 2,341 positive results that were compliant with Canadian standards (13.07%). There were 178 positive results that exceeded Canadian standards and were identified as violations (0.99%). The overall compliance rate for pesticides in imported fresh fruits and vegetables was 99.01%.
The Pest Management Regulatory Agency is working with the US Environmental Protection Agency to harmonize pesticide MRLs for use by growers in both the United States and Canada, thereby increasing the environmental and human safety associated with the use of registered and approved pesticides in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables.
For more information download Fresh Facts: Pesticides or Fresh Facts: Integrated Pest Management, part of CPMA’s Fresh Facts series.