Keep Current With MRLs for Exports

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MRLs

By Mark A. Ritenour

The United States and other countries set maximum residue limits (MRLs) on fresh produce for various chemicals, including pesticides that might be used before or after harvest. These materials must be labeled for use on the crop of interest and used only according to label instructions.

While it is unlikely for U.S. MRLs to be exceeded when label instructions are followed, other countries representing important export markets for Florida citrus set their own MRLs. When they are are lower than U.S. MRLs, use of certain pesticides may need to be modified or discontinued to keep from exceeding the country’s tolerances. Violations may lead to rejected loads of product, restrictions on future shipments and even increased requirements for the entire industry to a given market.

Since changes in MRLs occur throughout the year, growers are encouraged to regularly check that the materials used in their spray programs are compatible with the intended market. Visit the University of Florida’s postharvest resources website for the most current list of MRLs (in parts per million) for various chemicals used on fresh Florida citrus destined for domestic and important export markets. Because MRLs are continually changing, this information is intended as an initial reference source; no guarantee is made to its accuracy. Always verify these values with other knowledgeable sources within specific markets of interest. Fortunately, this website also includes links to specific MRL databases for select countries and to BCGlobal, which provides the most comprehensive list of MRLs for all commodities and markets.

One of the major changes relating to MRLs this year is that Korea has now developed its own list of MRLs instead of defaulting to CODEX values. As a result, MRLs for many materials previously accepted are now slated to expire Dec. 31, 2021, unless a company (the registrant) applies for an import tolerance (MRL). Unfortunately, some registrants have indicated they will not be applying for a Korean MRL because of the cost or other factors. Therefore, it is especially critical that those producing fruit for Korea regularly check that their spray materials still have an MRL for the market. 

Mark A. Ritenour is a professor at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Indian River Research and Education Center in Fort Pierce.

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