The control of residues of plant protection products (PPP) in food is part of normal food control based on the operator's in-house control and its inspections. The operator, for example the importer or the manufacturer, is responsible for the compliance and safety of their products, also as concerns PPP residues.
The operator shall identify and manage risks related to residues of PPPs. It must be possible to demonstrate risk management on the basis of e.g. procurement contracts or product specifications. In addition, the operator should verify risk management through e.g. analysis certificates or audit documents. Municipal food control authorities control, based on the OIVA system, the implementation of in-house control according to Finnish Food Authority's guidelines.
A control programme of residues of plant protection products is also implemented on an annual basis, as required by EU legislation. The objective of the programme is to control that foods do not contain any residues of unauthorised PPPs, or any residues of authorised PPPs at levels exceeding the statutory limit values.
Control programme safeguards consumer health
Every year about 2000 food products are analysed for PPP residues, some 300 of them products produced in Finland. Sampling is carried out by municipal food control authorities as well as sampling personnel from the Customs Laboratory and Valvira. The samples are analysed in the Customs Laboratory and in Finnish Food Authority's laboratory.
The majority of the samples are from products that play a key role in the diet, as well as from products which have previously been found to be non-conforming. In every case where the maximum level is exceeded, a risk assessment is performed to determine if the excessive level causes a risk to consumer health. The distribution of the products is always stopped immediately, and where necessary, the products are withdrawn from the market.
The Customs authorities are in charge of actions taken regarding imported batches that do not comply with requirements. Valvira handles cases that concern alcoholic products, and municipal food control authorities cases that concern domestic product batches.
Where plant protection products which have not been authorised in Finland are found in Finnish products, the compliance of the use of the PPP is investigated at farm level in collaboration with the Finnish Safety and Chemical Agency Tukes and regional Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres). These cases may be violations of the Plant Protection Product Act (1259/2006).
Finnish Food Authority coordinates control of PPP residues
Finnish Food Authority is in charge of the reporting of annual national control data to the European Commission. A link to the annual control data is provided in the left-hand side column. Finnish Food Authority also coordinates the drafting of the annual national control programme by compiling the plans of all the various authorities into an overall plan which is reported yearly to the European Commission. Drafting work related to the control programme is carried out by the Customs and the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health Valvira, in addition to Finnish Food Authority.