Northwest Horticultural Council
Chemical and Food Safety Alerts
EPA Revokes Chlorpyrifos Tolerances, FDA Releases Enforcement Guidance
Current situation: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revoked all tolerances for residues of the pesticide chemical chlorpyrifos in human food, effective February 28, 2022. It is strongly suggested existing stocks of chlorpyrifos not be applied to bearing trees after February 27, 2022. EPA has clarified that chlorpyrifos stocks can be used on non-bearing and nursery trees.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with enforcement responsibilities if a food is determined to contain a pesticide residue for which there is no tolerance. FDA has issued Industry Guidance for growers who have commodities that may have been treated with chlorpyrifos in 2021. Under the “channels of trade” provision, a food that contains chlorpyrifos residues is still deemed safe if the chlorpyrifos was applied lawfully, before the tolerances expired, and the residue does not exceed the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) originally permitted by the legal tolerance at time of application. The planned enforcement applies to both raw agricultural commodities and processed foods made from raw agricultural commodities.
FDA will generally not request documentation of chlorpyrifos application for a time period ranging from six months to two years, depending on the commodity. For sweet cherries this date is September 1, 2022, six months after tolerances expire. For apples and pears the date is September 1, 2023, 18 months after tolerances expire. Following those dates, FDA will accept documentation showing that lawful application occurred before February 28, 2022. If documentation is not provided or does not prove application before that date, the food may be subject to regulatory action.
Background: On August 30, 2021, the EPA issued a final rule to revoke all tolerances for chlorpyrifos residues in foods. The final rule set an expiration date for all chlorpyrifos tolerances of February 28, 2022. The EPA will also issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos associated with the revoked tolerances. The EPA said the move comes after a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s order directed the agency to issue a final rule in response to the 2007 petition filed by Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council.