Pesticide Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for plant-based foods
All plant products grown or imported for sale as food in NZ must comply with New Zealand's MRL Standards. Exported plant products must also meet trading partner MRLs.
Complying with MRLs
MRLs for pesticides are established in most countries to safeguard consumer health and to promote Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) in the use of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other agricultural compounds. Before you can export food to many countries, you must comply with the MRLs they have set. This is a condition of market access.
Find out more about GAP:
For more information about export MRLs for plant-based foods, including a step-by-step guide to compliance, refer to:
Using the MPI pesticide MRL database
The MPI pesticide MRL database identifies the maximum residue limits allowed for most pesticides used on our major fruit and vegetable export crops in New Zealand. Exporters can use this database to find out the residue limits in our main markets. You can search by three main aspects:
Note that MPI does not guarantee the accuracy of the information in this database. You should also check the relevant national legislation before exporting your products.
MPI provides a list of many countries’ MRL legislation and the organisations that oversee MRLs:
An international MRL database is also available by subscription:
Requirements for food sold in New Zealand
Domestically produced food
All domestically-produced food sold in New Zealand must comply with the current Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds and amendments.
The MRL Notice lists the MRLs for a range of agricultural compounds, but also includes a provision for residues of up to 0.1 mg/kg for agricultural compound/food combinations not specifically listed.
If the food is imported (except for food imported from Australia), it must comply with Codex MRLs or the MRLs listed in the MRL Notice (including the ‘default’ MRL of 0.1 mg/kg where no specific MRL is listed). Codex MRLs are developed by member countries of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).
Importing from or exporting to Australia
Under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA), if you import food from Australia you can sell it in New Zealand if it complies with Australian requirements. The converse is also true, so food exported from New Zealand to Australia is legal, so long as it complies with New Zealand requirements.
Importing plant products from Australia
If you import plant products from Australia, you must comply with any of the following:
- the New Zealand MRL Notice
- Standard 1.4.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code
- Codex MRLs
Exporting plant products to Australia
If you export plant products to Australia, you must comply with either:
- the New Zealand MRL Notice
- Standard 1.4.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
See the Food Standards Code on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website:
Requesting the establishment of an MRL
The majority of requests to establish an MRL for an agricultural compound are made in association with an application for registration (or variation to a registration) under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act. The requirement for a new or amended MRL will be considered by the Approvals & ACVM Group as part of the appraisal of trade name product registration.
If a person or organisation requests establishment of an MRL not associated with an application under the ACVM Act (for example, an importer of food commodity into New Zealand), then they should contact the Approvals & ACVM Group for details. MPI will require information (including relevant data sets) to confirm the residues in the food commodity, that the use is appropriate, and the toxicological end point (such as the Acceptable Daily Intake and/or the acute Reference Dose).
Contact the approvals group: