Pesticide residues in human food and animal feed

All foodstuffs intended for human or animal consumption in the European Union are subject to a maximum residue level of pesticides in their composition in order to protect animal and human health. EU law regulates the limits that apply to different food products and establishes a maximum limit applicable by default.


Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 February 2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin and amending Council Directive 91/414/EEC.



It sets the maximum quantities of pesticide residues permitted in products of animal or vegetable origin intended for human or animal consumption. These maximum residue levels (MRLs), which are fixed by the European Commission, include:

The MRLs for all crops and pesticides may be found in the Commission’s MRL database.

Foodstuffs covered

The law covers all products intended for human or animal consumption listed in its Annex I.

These products are not subject to the set limits if they are intended for:


Certain substances listed by the Commission (Annex VII) may be authorised even if they exceed their MRL, if they meet the following conditions:

Safety assessment

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is responsible for the safety assessment of new applications submitted for MRLs. This is based on their toxicity, the maximum levels expected on food and the diets of consumers. Based on the EFSA’s opinion, the Commission issues a regulation to establish a new MRL or to amend or remove an existing one.


The EU has a programme which, each year, checks an agreed list of products to ensure their compliance with MRLs of pesticides.


From 5 April 2005.

For more information, see the European Commission’s maximum residue levels and the EFSA websites.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 396/2005



OJ L 70, 16.3.2005, pp. 1-16

Successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 396/2005 have been incorporated into the basic text. This consolidated version is only of documentary value.


Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 400/2014 of 22 April 2014 concerning a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2015, 2016 and 2017 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin (OJ L 119, 23.4.2014, pp. 44-56).

last update 23.04.2015