New Guidance For Chlorpyrifos Pesticide Residue In Food Issued By Federal Regulators

The EPA banned chlorpyrifos last year after recent research indicated it had neurotoxic effects which could cause developmental disorders in children.

A new guidance document released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focuses on the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in food, detailing a multi-phase enforcement plan that has been enacted following the recent ban, due to potential health concerns.

The FDA’s chlorpyrifos guidance was issued on February 9, titled “Questions and Answers Regarding Channels of Trade Policy for Human Food Commodities with Chlorpyrifos Residues: Guidance for Industry”, revoking all tolerances for chlorpyrifos in food, and adding an expiration date of February 28, 2022.

The guidance comes after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule in August 2021, banning chlorpyrifos from use on crops, citing research about the lasting neurological harm.

The new FDA guidance explains the agency’s planned two-phase enforcement policy for the controversial pesticide going forward. The two-phase enforcement will take place over the next four years with a tiered approach on enforcement.

During the first phase, the FDA indicates it will enforce at its discretion to not request documentation for the presence of chlorpyrifos residues as a result of lawful application. This will continue for 6 to 24 months depending on the food product.

In the second phase, the FDA will accept documentation that lawful application of chlorpyrifos occurred before Feb. 28, 2022. This will be allowed until Aug. 28, 2026. This is the last date food made from lawfully treated commodities containing chlorpyrifos residue will be allowed in the channels of trade. Following that date, no residues of chlorpyrifos will be allowed in food covered by the guidance.

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The guidance applies to raw agricultural commodities and processed foods, not to poultry, meat, catfish, and catfish products, as well as certain egg products that are regulated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The guidance is meant to provide clarity to the public about the existing requirements already placed on chlorpyrifos application to food products. While it is not a rule or regulation, it helps guide the industry on what the FDA deems to be its legal interpretation of how the chlorpyrifos ban will be enacted and enforced.

Chlorpyrifos Health Concerns

Chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide first used by Dow Chemical Company in 1965 on food crops to kill insects and worms that harmed the crops. It is widely used on cauliflower, soybeans, grapes, nut trees, broccoli and other crops. It is still used on more than 40,000 farms in the US and on 50 different types of crops.

Research has indicated it has neurotoxic properties that have potential neurological effects on children. Research published last year linked chlorpyrifos exposure to increased risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, among those exposed to the harmful chemical.

Research indicating persistent neurological, autoimmune disorders, and developmental disorders among children led the EPA to issue a ban on the chemical. It is considered toxic to humans by the World Health Organization.

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