NSF International updates pesticide test requirements for supplements, minimizes ‘zero tolerance’

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

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Related tags: Nsf international, Nsf, Pesticide, Pesticide residues, Test method

Instead of relying on a ‘precautionary zero tolerance’ for pesticide residue in dietary supplements, NSF International updated the maximum allowable level for companies to pass its quality test.

"The new testing requirements fill an important gap,"​ said Rebecca Adams, the NSF International research toxicologist who led a study which established chemical-specific pesticide limits for 185 pesticides that might be present in botanical ingredients used in dietary supplements.

"NSF International's evidence-driven approach minimizes reliance on zero tolerance while remaining protective of public health and safety," ​she added.

The company looked at US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health effects criteria as well as criteria from international authorities to develop defensible chemical-specific limits for each pesticide, including the fungicides difenoconazole and oxidixyl and the insecticide dieldrin.

The update will affect more than 1,000 supplement products and ingredients certified to the testing firm’s NSF/ANSI 173 standards, and all future products that wish to get this certification.

Why the update?

NSF International’s dietary supplements program has screened pesticides for specific product categories seeking certification of NSF/ANSI 173, Adams told us.

“Originally, action levels were established by reviewing international maximum residue limits (MRLs).  Multiple companies and NSF International Toxicology Services have evaluated how these thresholds were established and have considered alternative approaches in order to improve the human health basis of the current maximum allowable levels,”​ she added.

The new allowable levels, which differ per pesticide, “remains protective of public health and safety while allowing for evaluation of pesticide residues from intentional pesticide applications or unavoidable non-point source pesticide contamination,”​ Adams said.

According to Sylvia Laman, managing toxicologist at NSF International, "What's important is that these criteria provide a tool for industry to evaluate pesticide residues in botanical ingredients used in dietary supplements.”

"By using EPA and international data we've been able to develop scientifically defensible chemical-specific pesticide limits."

The company added that the update should not be considered a substitute for U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pesticide residue requirements which, “while written specifically for food products, remain an FDA compliance requirement for supplement manufacturers.”

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