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Release of the first Certified Reference Material for pesticides in cucumber

5 June 2018

The JRC released ERM®-BC403, the first Certified Reference Material (CRM) for the analysis of fifteen pesticide residues in cucumber. Limits for these toxic compounds are set in food and feed by Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005. ERM-BC403 will support the laboratories for the quality control and/or assessment of analytical method performance, and will ensure the comparability of measurement results. This CRM is an efficient control tool supporting the European single market and trade with third countries outside the EU. 

Pesticides have different degrees of toxicity to humans and animals. For this reason individual maximum residue levels (MRL) are regulated in food and feed to make sure that products are safe and apt for consumption.

Every year, official control and commercial laboratories provide 20 million individual test results for pesticide residues in food to EFSA (EFSA, 2017). These results of analysis are usually used to authorise import of products into the EU internal market from third countries and for official control of commodities produced inside the EU. Levels of pesticides found above the regulated MRLs automatically result in banning of the product for consumption to protect the health of citizens. Banning of shipments also has significant economic consequences for the importer and producer. Thus the quality of the analytical results is highly relevant in the decision making process, which must be based on correct measurements, but is also of high economic impact, considering the large number of tests executed annually and the size of the food market. 

Certified Reference Materials (CRM) play a pivotal role for the assessment of analytical method performance during method validation and/or used as quality control tools for measurement results.

The material ERM-BC403 is the first CRM produced for pesticide residues in cucumber. This product is typically representative of fruits and vegetables having high water content, therefore an analytical method validation for specific pesticide residues conducted in this matrix is generally applicale to the entire commodity group. The fifteen certified pesticides were carefully selected based on different criteria such as their general use (insecticide, fungicide and nematicide), being typical of different chemical classes (neonicotinoid, organochlorine, organophosphorus, azole, benzimidazole, dicarboximide, strobin, pyretroid and N-methyl carbamate) or having an authorised or banned use in the EU. Consideration was also given to different degrees of difficulty for their analysis when present in a cucumber matrix.

The mass fractions of the following pesticides with their associated uncertainties are certified in ERM-BC403: acetamiprid, azoxystrobin, carbendazim, chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, diazinon, alpha-endosulfan, fenitrothion, imazalil, imidacloprid, iprodione, malathion, methomyl, tebuconazole and thiabendazole.

Further details on ERM-BC403 can be found in the certificate and certification report available in our on-line catalogue : ERM-BC403 .

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