Pesticide / Agricultural Chemical Residues

There is a growing need to increase the global food supply, putting pressure on farmers to grow more and with higher profitability. As a result, there has been a surge in the use of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides on crops in recent decades to aid in preventing crop spoilage from insects, weeds, microbes, and fungi. Unfortunately, these pesticide compounds, their metabolites and by-products, then enter the food supply and are consumed by the public.

Our role as testing laboratories has never been more critical. Safety and quality are of major concern to consumers, governments, and food producers.

With over 1,000 pesticides currently available for use and with increased regulation by many governments, the detection and identification of compounds across multiple classes has grown in demand.

NviroTek Laboratories has comprehensive solutions enabling us to identify diverse chemical compounds and meet compliance requirements. Many producers use pesticides as recommended but if pesticides are used incorrectly, for example by overuse or applying at incorrect harvest intervals, excessive residue levels can be found within foodstuffs. This can have significant and potential harmful effects for consumers.  This has given rise to strict to verify the safety of foodstuffs for consumers, as well as ensuring production processes are satisfactory with the correct use of pesticides according to regulations worldwide.  Rigorous, ongoing safety assessments are undertaken by regulatory bodies to be sure that any pesticide residues remaining in food are not harmful to consumers and these lead to the setting of statutory Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). The MRL is the maximum safe amount of a given residue likely to remain in food products when a pesticide has been used correctly, adhering to good agricultural practice (GAP). Compliance assures regulators and consumers that pesticides have been used correctly and in turn ensures that consumer exposure is minimised.

As many commercial pesticides are a complex range of different chemicals, it is important to ensure that a wide range of pesticide residues are monitored for in your food samples.  Our fast turnaround times (3 working days) ensure that results are readily available and you can quickly address any potential issues should they be identified.

NviroTek laboratories can both identify (screen) and quantify residues within a food sample using state of the art LC-MS/MS as well as GC-TOF equipment. The typical LOD values are 0.01mg/kg or lower. These data can be vital to managing your production processes, demonstrating that they are fit for purpose, and providing strong evidence to regulators and consumers about the safety of your food products and compliance with various regulations, including Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs).  The pesticides analysed include insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and plant growth regulators.

When submitting your sample please adhere to the following guideline regarding the sample amount as per DAFF: Sampling and Analysis of Agricultural Products of Plant Origin to determine Agro-chemical residue levels and Risk management as part of export inspection and certification in terms of the Agricultural product standards act.





Nature of primary samples to be taken Min size of each laboratory sample
1. Fresh products of plant origin


(a)       All fresh fruit and vegetables


(i)                    Small (<25g)



(ii)                   Medium (25-250g)

(iii)                  Large (<250g)



(b)      Pulses


(i)                    Cereal grains

(ii)            Oilseed









Apples, oranges


Cabbage, cucumber, grapes (bunches)


Dried beans or peas









Whole units, or packages, or units taken with a sampling device

Whole units


Whole unit(s)






1 kg



1 kg (at least 10units)


2 kg



1 kg


1 kg

0.5 kg

2. Process product of plant origin


(a)       Product of high unit value

(b)      Solid products of low bulk

(c)       Other solid products

(d)      Liquid products



As determined from time to time by the Executive officer



Bread, flour, dried fruit

Fruit juices, pulp and puree



Packages or units taken with sampling device







0.5 kg

0.5 litre or 0.5 kg