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Health 285 views Mar 21, 2017
Why ‘food and water’ should be free from pesticide residues

Food labs play a crucial role in testing foods and water for pesticide residues. Over use of pesticides can lead to hazardous residues in foods along the entire food chain, in surface water and environment. Food regulations havetables for maximum residue levels in foods. Food manufacturers seek out NABL certified food labs to test their food products so they are in compliance with regulatory requirements. Even international regulations have very stringent legislation so consumers are fully protected from the harmful effects of these chemicals. 


Need for pesticide residue testing


Use of pesticides has increased and fresh produce like fruits and vegetables are particularly susceptible to pesticide residues. Food testing labs play a crucial role in identifying and controlling pesticides residues in fresh produce. Hundreds of pesticides which include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides etc. are applied on crops to increase production. However, lack of agricultural management, cross contamination during food processing or transportation is leading to pesticide residue in foods which is dangerous for consumers as well as the environment. Continued exposure to pesticides is a health hazard even in minute traces and therefore testing of foods is essential.


Undertaking pesticide residue testing


There are a number of food testing labs accredited by NABL as per ISO/IEC 17025 and authorized by FSSAI for chemical and biological testing of food which test foods for pesticide residues. One of the most important features for doing pesticide residue analysis is to ensure that the testing lab has been provided with a good cross section of the foods as that can help to identify the numerous residues more accurately. For liquid products one sample suffices because the residue is likely to be mixed evenly but in solids some 15 to 20 samples are usually provided. The samples also need to be frozen immediately so that the results of the analysis are accurate.The introduction of instruments like LC-MS/MS and GC-MS/MS has made pesticide residue testing more effective.


Pesticide residues and import barrier


The levels of pesticide residue are also used as a trade barrier by countries so their domestic production does not get contaminated. Food importers and exporters need to get their food products tested from an approved food lab so the pesticide report can be made available so the importing country can be sure that the levels of pesticide are within approved parameters for that country. Food labs that use globally acceptable testing methods as laid down by AOAC, ASTA, AOCS, CODEX, PFA, BIS, EU, USFDA are the labs where importers and exporters must get their food and ingredient samples tested for pesticide residues before shipping them.


Testing water for pesticides


These days pesticide residues in natural water have become common because of their widespread application in agriculture. Drinking water or even packaged water and water based beverages must undergo pesticide residue testing in a food lab. Pesticides can cause a negative effect on health therefore focus on regular drinking water testing is especially important.