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FSSAI raises default pesticide limits in Spices

Why is it in the news?

  • The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India(FSSAI) has raised the default limit for pesticide residues in spices to 0.1 mg/kg, a ten-fold increase over the previous limit of 0.01 mg/kg.
  • This new limit applies only in cases where specific maximum residue limits (MRL) for a pesticide for the crop are not mentioned in Indian regulations. The default MRL for other food products remains unchanged at 0.01 mg/kg.

More about the news

  • Despite the increase in limits, pesticide residues in spices are still in trace amounts unlikely to harm human health, according to experts.
  • MRLs are decided and revised based on data from field trials and evidence of the impact of pesticides on human health.
  • Reasons for raising the limits include difficulties in keeping them below the previous limit due to the presence of phenols in spices, concerns about imports containing approved pesticides not recognized in India, and possible seepage of pesticides from other crops.
  • Though activists have raised concerns about potential health effects of increased pesticide limits and questioned the presence of unapproved compounds, FSSAI experts, however, maintain that action will still be taken against pesticides exceeding the limit.
  • The government asserts that India’s limits remain the lowest in the world and that the increase in limits was primarily to facilitate more effective compound detection rather than to permit higher pesticide use.
  • While technically illegal, farmers may use unregistered pesticides due to limited options approved for use in spices, leading to concerns about the presence of unapproved compounds.
·        India has more than 295 registered pesticides, with 139 approved for use in spices, according to government data.

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