National Residue Survey results for apples and pears: 2013-14

The National Residue Survey results for 2013-14 show that Australian apples and pears were, respectively, 98.1 per cent and 100 per cent compliant with national guidelines for chemical residue on fruit.

Apples and pears have been part of the National Residue Survey (NRS) random residue testing programs since 1998. The program monitors the residue status of Australian pome fruit and provides assistance for growers to meet quality assurance and industry requirements.

Funding for the program comes from a 75 cent / ton NRS levy on apple and pear production.


During 2013-14, samples from 314 apples and 110 pears were collected from packing sheds and central markets Australia-wide for testing by the NRS. The results showed that compliance rates with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) Standards were 98.1 per cent for apples and 100 per cent for pears.

Since 2000, 4,622 apple and 1,495 pear samples have been collected and analysed for agricultural chemical residues.

Chris Williams, Assistant Director for Plant Programs, NRS, says these results continue to demonstrate that Australian apple and pear producers use in-crop and post-harvest agricultural chemicals according to good agricultural practice. The results also provide assurance to customers of the excellent residue and contaminant status of Australian pome fruit.


Year Apples Pears
Samples Compliance (%) Samples Compliance (%)
2000-01 220 97.7 112 100
2001-02 233 97.4 74 97.3
2002-03 231 100 77 100
2003-04 214 100 71 98.6
2004-05 221 99.5 71 100
2005-06 250 100 68 100
2006-07 455 98.0 91 98.9
2007-08 469 99.6 141 100
2008-09 471 100 136 100
2009-10 479 98.1 144 99.3
2010-11 420 100 150 98.7
2011-12 346 98.3 142 97.2
2012-13 299 100 108 98.2
2013-14 314 98.1 110 100
Table 1: NRS results for apple and pear, 2000-2014


Samples are collected according to NRS protocols by either the quality assurance (QA) manager at the packing shed or by approved third-party samplers in wholesale markets and packing sheds.

Approved third-party samplers include officers from Commonwealth and state government departments of agriculture, private consultants and/or NRS officers.

Each three-kilogram sample of apples or pears is selected at random from the produce of a specific grower. The origin of the samples and the number of samples collected are proportional to the level of production in each state.

“We continue to encourage all growers to have samples collected through their respective packer,” said Chris. “If that’s not possible, it can be direct off farm or through the wholesale markets.”

The NRS apple and pear program aims to continue sampling each Australian grower at least once every two years and for testing numbers to remain around 400 per year.

Chemical screening

The apple and pear program multi-residue screen is developed in consultation with APAL and industry, taking into account Australian registered chemicals, chemical residue profiles and market sensitivities that are important for international trade.

The chemical groups covered in the multi-residue screen include fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and the scald inhibitor (diphenylamine). The NRS is also considering screening for heavy metals in the future.

“From 1 July 2014, we will be using a new analytical screen that provides comprehensive coverage of chemicals registered for use in Australia, including those no longer registered, and those important for international trading partners,” said Chris. “The number of compounds we now currently test is around 195, including metabolites.”

Market access

With an increasing focus on export, samples can now be marked as ‘export’, noting the market destination to assess the sample against the importing country’s residue criteria.

“Results are then compared to both the Australian and the export destination country’s Maximum Residue Limits,” said Chris.

To help growers better plan any chemical applications for fruit that may be destined for overseas, NRS has launched a new International Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) database available on their Department’s website.

This provides MRL information for a range of key export markets. Market information is also provided, explaining each countries pesticide residue requirements.

“Each country has different import tolerances,” said Chris. “Meeting Australian standards does not mean compliance with the export destination requirements.”

In his presentation to apple and pear growers at the APAL Industry Summit, Chris highlighted the need to understand market requirements and cited India as an example.

“India has recently started imposing stricter import testing,” said Chris. “Multiple shipments of produce have been rejected because a lack of Indian MRLs and no defined deferral policy.

“After international government and local supplier intervention, unofficial advice is that India may now take Codex MRLs in to consideration if there is a gap in the Indian standards. Although trade has resumed, there is closer scrutiny on imported produce.”

Chris also noted that China and Hong Kong have released new pesticide import requirements, and that other Asian countries, including South Korea, Japan and Taiwan are following suit.


The NRS has released its annual brochure for apples and pears in 2013-14, which is available on the APAL website along with details of past surveys and the program more broadly.

“The brochure we develop to summarise NRS results can be used as a marketing tool with international fruit buyers to demonstrate our extensive chemical testing and the good results the industry has achieved,” said Chris.

“This year we will offer a language translation service for the NRS brochures to help international buyers understand more about our industry’s standards.”

The National Residue Survey

The National Residue Survey (NRS) is part of an Australian Government and industry strategy to minimise chemical residues and environmental contaminants in Australian food products. In doing so, NRS programs support primary producers and commodity marketers by confirming Australia’s status as a producer of ‘clean’ food and facilitating access to key domestic and export markets.For those industries funding and participating in, the NRS, national residue monitoring programs provide verification of good agricultural practice (GAP), help to identify potential residue problems, and indicate where follow-up action is needed. The NRS programs form part of a national pesticide and veterinary medicine residue management framework which covers assessment and registration of chemicals, maximum reside limit (MRL) setting, control-of-use regulation, verification of GAP and traceback/review.

All NRS programs are underpinned by an ISO 9001:2008 quality management system.

By |August 18th, 2014|Chemical use, National Residue Survey|

About the Author:

APAL is an industry representative body and not-for-profit membership organisation that supports Australia’s commercial apple and pear growers.