When it comes to food, we all want to ensure consumers have the best quality products available to them. From size, shape, color, and consistency, down to what products taste like, a farmer is looking to grow the best crop and producers want to produce the best product.
With that comes the responsibility of managing the safety and quality of fresh produce products. So much of the world’s food is grown on farms, and pesticide application is needed to protect the crops from damage from pests like rodents or insects and from enduring a loss of crop due to disease.
Pesticides are not just limited to the standard production of fruits, grains, and vegetables. Organic farmers will also use a form of natural pesticides, as opposed to the synthetic ones used in conventional agriculture. Despite the method of farming, all crops will need some sort of pesticide application to prevent damage.
While pesticides are necessary in order to safely and efficiently produce foods, it’s just as important to take the required measures to certify that those foods are free from pesticide residue. In order to do that, pesticide residue testing labs are imperative.
What Are Pesticide Residue Testing Labs?
Pesticide residue testing labs analyze food products for the presence of harmful remnants from foreign substances. This is defined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and enforced by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The tolerances set by the EPA are the standard for what amount of pesticide can remain in or on a product. The term pesticide is described by the EPA as, “many kinds of ingredients used in products, such as insecticides, fungicides, rodenticides, insect repellents, weed killers, antimicrobials, and swimming pool chemicals, that are designed to prevent, destroy, repel, or reduce pests of any sort.”
Pesticide residue testing labs evaluate and run in-depth analysis to ensure the food product that is being put out meets the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) set forth by the EPA for safe consumption.
Why Pesticide Residue Testing Labs are Necessary
With consumers eating more and more fresh fruits and vegetables, especially during the summer months, it’s important to make sure the products that are coming from farms do not exceed the maximum amount of pesticide allowed.
Without pesticide residue testing labs, we would have no way of knowing if the food we are consuming is safe. Farmers and processors understand that pesticide application is vital for the production of fresh produce. Without it, they are leaving your foods — fruits, grains, or vegetables — open to vulnerabilities that can harm their business and production.
Since crops are turned into food for animals and humans both, including livestock feed, the toxicity levels must not reach a certain level. The main job of a pesticide residue testing lab is to ensure that the MRLs on or in foods do not exceed amounts that are deemed harmful to the consumers. Pesticides will remain on a crop for a certain period of time, but if the residues linger too long, that can also cause damage.
The time between pesticide application and harvest is called the “harvest interval,” and this is when it’s necessary to allow residues to decrease to acceptable levels. While some pesticides can still be used during the day of harvest, others must be applied long before in order to decrease and meet the acceptable tolerance or MRL by consumption.
Working with Certified Pesticide Residue Testing Labs
Barrow-Agee Laboratories has been a pesticide residue testing lab for more than 100 years and has performed tests for companies of all sizes. Our lab can test for harmful and unwanted foreign bodies on food products such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, organophosphates, and more, using reference methods validated by reputable bodies, including the FDA PAM.
Our team handles more than 150,000 tests per year, providing our customers with precise and accurate results. All of our testing services are backed by proficiency testing approvals, accreditations, and certifications.
Barrow-Agee Laboratories can return sample results back to you in as little as five days. If you need an expedited test, we are more than able to help you get these results back even quicker.
When you are ready to send a sample, follow the process as outlined on this page. Remember, a quick call beforehand is best when preparing to send a sample to ensure that the shipping and packaging requirements are being met.
If you have more questions or would like to learn more about pesticide residue testing, please contact our team. We are more than happy to help with your testing needs.