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New Zealand Introduces MRLs for Agricultural Compound Residues in Various Food Commodities

Photo: New Zealand Introduces MRLs for Agricultural Compound Residues in Various Food Commodities
Photo: New Zealand Introduces MRLs for Agricultural Compound Residues in Various Food Commodities
On February 15 2016, New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) published the Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for Agricultural Compounds. It introduces MRLs for pesticide and veterinary drug residues in plants and animal products in all imported and domestic foods. This new standard came into force as the outline prohibition for sale on March 1 2016.

New Zealand has strict food safety laws for imported and exported agricultural products. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is responsible for providing effective food regulation for food producers or consumers in the country. To comply with international food regulations and avoid unfair trade, the MPI often plays a leadership role for standard setting with the Codex Alimentarius Commission and World Organization for animal health. Regarding food safety in New Zealand, a food bill was initially introduced for the producer and exporter relying upon food inspection systems. It was later extended to also check certain imported high-risk foods before importation. The bill became law in March 2014 and is called the Food Act 2014 [1].  

Under the Food Act, maximum residue levels (MRLs) established by the MPI control the contaminants or residues that may be present in foods when these compounds are applied, whether in accordance with good agricultural practice (GAP) or not. The MRL standards are addressed in Food Regulation 2015, and amended a number of times each year regarding the updated use. If any MRL changes, New Zealand’s Minister for Food Safety will consider and give a final decision. Due to the limit of restricted substances for food safety, the Food Regulation 2015 is amended and issued as Food Notice 2016 [2].  The highlights of the notice are show below:

1. Specified MRLs for pesticides and antibiotics in specified foods products, in Schedule 1

2. Specified food products for which there are no MRLs, in Schedules 2 and 3

Where other agricultural compounds or combination foods are not mentioned in the lists, a default residual level of 0.1 mg/kg shall be applied.

What Do The Changes Mean?

New Zealand’s new MRLs have the potential to affect agricultural producers and food manufacturers. Residues of agricultural compounds in or on products destined for New Zealand must not exceed the MRL levels. For support in complying with the food safety regulation, producers should seek professional advice.


SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulation news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions, including analytical tests, audits, certifications, inspections, and technical support. We continually invest in our testing, capability, and state-of-the art technology to help you reduce risk, improve food safety and quality. For further more information, please visit our website: www.foodsafety.sgs.com.

Email SGS Hong Kong Ltd. at mktg.hk@sgs.com for enquiries or visit http://www.sgsgroup.com.hk.

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