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Current Issues

14 September 2010 : INFOSAN note: Monitoring for Chemicals in Foods

INFOSAN Information Note No. 1/2009: Monitoring for Chemicals in Foods


The contamination of food by chemical hazards which is a worldwide public health concern is considered as a leading cause of problems among global trade.


Taking into account Joint FAO/WHO risk assessments, Codex Alimentarius Commission elaborates maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides and veterinary drugs as well as maximum limits (MLs) for contaminants.  Likewise, guidance on residue monitoring activities is also provided by CAC.


It is described that a routine monitor for all residue/commodity combinations is unnecessary for consumer protection.  With a comprehensive understanding of toxicological parameters and potential exposure it is possible to quantitatively identify concerns that have the greatest impact on public health.  The adoption of such a system will allow jurisdictions to focus monitoring activities to areas of priority.


Control programme of a residue and contaminant involves monitoring, directed sampling, compliance testing, pre-market surveys, post-market surveys and all other data gathering activities. A summary of the different types of activities is described in the full note.


According to the note, national authorities responsible for food safety have the role of working with food producers to ensure levels of chemical contamination are minimized, to monitor for the presence of chemicals in food and to undertake necessary follow up activities proportionate to the public health risk, as required.


Full details of the note on “Monitoring for Chemicals in Foods” can be viewed at