The International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO) is reminding those in the cocoa and related industries that the EU Legislation on Pesticide Residues will apply to all beans entering the European Union from 1 September 2008.
All consignments of cocoa beans being imported into the EU must conform to the provisions of Regulation 149/2008/EEC from that date.
Assessment of the quality of the imported cocoa will include measurement of traces of substances that have been used upstream in the supply chain, including pesticides used on farms or in storage.
"The crop protection activities of farmers and middlemen will therefore be of great concern to all in the cocoa trade, some of whom may have a limited working knowledge of pesticide science", according to Roy Bateman, cocoa industry consultant and author of the newly launched ICCO manual 'Pesticide Use in Cocoa'.
This publication, available on the ICCO website, provides practical information on pesticide use and best practice, and includes information on pesticides approved for use on cocoa when applied according to Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) and those that must not be used.
GAP is when the pesticide has been applied in line with the product label recommendations and in keeping with local environmental and other conditions, according to ICCO.
The Regulation establishes the Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) of pesticides permitted in cocoa.
According to ICCO, MRLs are defined as the maximum concentration of pesticide residue, expressed as milligrammes of residue per kilogramme of food, likely to occur in or on food after the use of pesticides according to GAP. For active substances for which no MRL is included in the Regulation, a default MRL of 0.01mg/kg will apply.
The ICCO says that it is currently talking to the relevant authorities in the EU to further clarify how the Regulation will be implemented and enforced.
Consultations to date have confirmed that implementation/enforcement is completely the responsibility of the individual Member States, and the new regulation will only apply to products that have been imported into the EU from 1 September 2008 so all imports before that time will not be affected.
Also, inspections will take into consideration whether the goods were produced before 1 September 2008, but imported after that date, which is relevant to this year's African mid-crop.
Residues might continue to appear after the use of the pesticide has been reduced or stopped. Such cases would need to be brought to the attention of the European Commission, which might result in a temporary higher MRL.
Countries believing that certain MRLs have been set too low can make a representation at the EC with a dossier containing scientific evidence or lodge a complaint with the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures before 28 June 2008, although this date is likely to be deferred.
Regulation 149/2008/EEC of January 2008 relates to a large number of products, of which cocoa is one, and amends EC 396/2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in products of plant and animal origin intended for human and animal consumption. The objective of this act is to ensure that pesticide residues in foodstuffs do not constitute an unacceptable risk for consumer and animal health.