Pesticide Residue in Honey: Regulatory Requirements in Europe

Honey can potentially contain residues of pesticides, since honeybees may be exposed to pesticides either directly during spraying or indirectly when foraging on treated pollen and nectar.

Since honey is a commodity that is both traded and consumed, it is necessary to establish maximum residue levels (MRLs) for honey and to evaluate any possible risk to consumers from residues in honey.

Until recently, no agreed methodology on the residue studies required and the approach for setting appropriate MRLs for honey was available, and existing MRLs for honey have historically been set at a default level of 0.05 mg/kg. European Union (EU) technical guidelines on how to address possible residues in honey are now published and due to be implemented by 1 January 2020. The guidelines are relevant to pesticide active substance and product dossiers and require the assessment of potential residues of pesticides and their metabolites in honey and other bee products. In many cases, studies will be necessary to facilitate the refinement and establishment of robust MRLs for honey in the interest of consumer protection and will need to follow test procedures detailed in the guidelines document.

Exponent can help you with all aspects of study design, study monitoring, dietary risk assessment and MRL-setting procedures for honey in line with new EU guidelines to ensure regulatory compliance for your pesticide active substance and product portfolios.

Whether we are working as part of your team, providing high-quality expertise not otherwise available, or providing additional resources when needed, Exponent’s residue experts can: 

  • Perform data gap analyses on your residue data sets based on in-depth knowledge of the regulatory requirements.
  • Critically review existing and new use patterns for compliance against the new technical guidelines on residues in honey.
  • Design and monitor all aspects of honey studies (field and analytical phases of field/tunnel trials) including bespoke and nonstandard study designs. Practical aspects can be addressed with access to our ecotoxicologists and Exponent beekeepers. 
  • Assist with the preparation of regulatory dossier submissions to regulatory authorities and European Food Safety Authority to support MRL proposals for relevant crops/commodities, including honey.
Provide ongoing and post-submission regulatory support and strategic advice.