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Australia Establishes MRLs for Six Pesticides in Food-Producing Animals

On April 9, 2019, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) approved amendments to Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Instrument No.4 (MRL Standard) 2012 by setting new and temporary maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides in fish, meat products and milk. Objections must be received before May 7, 2019.

Photo: Fish products
Photo: Fish products

Pesticides are extensively used to control diseases, weeds, and pests in crop plants. Most of these compounds are persistent and stable in the environment. However, with the fat soluble properties of some pesticides, residues can be accumulated in the fat tissue of food producing animals via animal feed and water. They may cause adverse heath effects associated with consumption through the food chain. To ensure food safety, maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides in those products have been established in the European Union (EU), Japan, and United States but are still limited in Australia. From this fact, six pesticides (Diflubenzuron, Fluopyram, Mandestrobin, Praziquantel, Pyrethrins, and Trichlorfon)[1] have recently been considered and MRLs established for in fish, meat products and milk, as shown in the table.

SubstanceFood commoditiesMRL (mg/kg)
Diflubenzuron (CAS # 35367-38-5)Fish muscle0.002 T
Fluopyram (CAS # 658066-35-4)

Eggs, meat, and edible offal of poultry


Edible offal of mammals0.5
Meat mammals0.1
Mandestrobin (CAS # 173662-97-0)Edible offal and meat of mammals (in the fat)
Praziquantel (CAS # 55268-74-1)Fish muscle0.02 T
Pyrethrins (CAS # 8003-34-7)Edible offal and meat of mammals (in the fat)
 Eggs, edible offal and meat poultry (in the fat)0.05
Trichlorfon (CAS # 52-68-6)Fish muscle0.01 T
T = Temporary maximum residue limit for africa alert without specific country  

Australian MRLs for pesticides in fish and meat products

There are several papers on pesticide analysis in food-producing animal in the literature, but they mainly focus on just a few compounds or one class of pesticide, which is labor intensive, expensive, complicated, and consumes a large volume of solvent. Over the last decade, the QuEChERS (quick, easy, cheap, effective, rugged, and safe) method of multi-pesticides extraction was developed by Michelangelo Anastassiades [2] to overcome these problems. Liquid chromatography (LC) or gas chromatogram (GC) coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) are required in the analytical process for simultaneous quantification in a single injection because of its high selectivity and sensitivity.

What do the changes mean?

This update has the potential to affect farms and food producers. Any imported fish and meat products designated for Australia must not be found with pesticide residue levels that exceed these MRLs. To ensure compliance with food safety regulation, food producers should seek professional advice.

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