Trends of pesticide residues in foods imported to the United Kingdom from 2000 to 2020
A total of 33,911 samples with determined pesticide residues were collated and analysed in the UK monitoring programme to determine trends in pesticide residue levels in imported foods during the period of 2000–2020. 17,027 of those samples (50.2%) contained detectable residues while 1,126 (3.3%) exceeded maximum residue levels (MRLs). An increased trend and a significant shift before and after 2010 in imported foods containing both detectable residues and exceeding MRLs were found. The main factors responsible for these changes were due to constant amendments in regulations and legal frameworks. With adoption of Regulation EC396/2005, there have been major changes that have affected the operations of the UK food monitoring programme including sampling methods, analysis methods, new MRLs, types of foods, and the accreditation system. The proportion of imported foods with residues and the amounts of residues in imported foods varied from country to country. Foods imported from non-European countries had more non-compliant rates than foods imported from EU. Levels of pesticide residues also varied between processed foods and unprocessed raw agricultural products and between plant-based and animal foods. Fruits and vegetables and cereals had higher occurrences of quantified residues as well as higher MRLs violation rates compared to animal products.