Benbrook, 2022a

Benbrook, Charles; “Tracking pesticide residues and risk levels in individual samples—insights and applications;” Environmental Sciences Europe, 2022, 34(1); DOI: 10.1186/s12302-022-00636-w.


BACKGROUND: A method is now available to quantify the number of pesticide residues and relative pesticide dietary risks in individual servings of food. The Dietary Risk Index (DRI) system combines the results of United States and United Kingdom pesticide residue testing programs with data on food serving sizes and each pesticide’s chronic Reference Dose or Acceptable Daily Intake. Chronic DRI values are a ratio: the amount of residue in a serving of food relative to the maximum amount allowed by regulators.

RESULTS: The DRI system generates individual sample tables reporting the number of residues detected and individual pesticide and aggregate-pesticide DRI values in specific, individual samples of food. It is the first such system to do so worldwide. Output tables produce accurate estimates of real-world dietary risks based on current toxicology data and exposure benchmarks set by regulators. System outputs allow assessment of the distribution of pesticide dietary risks across foods and pesticides and demonstrate that dietary risk levels are highly skewed. A large number of samples pose moderate, low, or very-low risks, and relatively few samples pose high or very-high risks.

CONCLUSIONS: The DRI system provides the food industry, regulators and analysts with a simple, accessible online tool to assess pesticide dietary-risk levels by food, by pesticide, as a function of country of origin, and on food grown on conventional versus organic farms. DRI system output tables show that the number of residues in a sample of food is a consistently poor indicator of dietary risk levels. By identifying the relatively small number of high-risk samples, efforts to mitigate pesticide dietary risks can be targeted where the most worrisome risks are.