Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for Agricultural Compounds

Here you will find information on meeting MRL requirements.

Requirements for food sold in New Zealand

All imported and domestically-produced food sold in New Zealand (except for food imported from Australia) must comply with the Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds (February 2016) and amendments.

The MRL Notice lists the MRLs for a range of agricultural compounds, but also includes a provision for residues of up to 0.1 mg/kg for agricultural compound/food combinations not specifically listed. In addition, the MRL Notice recognises the role of Codex standards for imported food.

Under the MRL Notice, agricultural compound residues in food must:

  • comply with the specific MRLs listed in the MRL Notice (including the ‘default’ MRL of 0.1 mg/kg where no specific MRL is listed), or
  • if the food is imported, comply with Codex MRLs and where no Codex MRL applies,complywith the MRLs listed in the MRL Notice (including the ‘default’ MRL of 0.1 mg/kg where no specific MRL is listed)

Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds (October 2016) (PDF)

Food (Revocation of Maximum Residue Limits of Agricultural Compounds, Importer Listing, Importer General Requirements, Prescribed Foods, and Imported Milk and Milk Products Standards) Standard 2016 (PDF)

Codex MRLs (External website)

Food imported from or exported to Australia

Under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA), food imported from Australia may be legally sold in New Zealand, so long as it complies with Australian requirements. The converse is also true, so food imported from New Zealand into Australia is legal, so long as it complies with New Zealand requirements.

Therefore, in addition to the options above, food imported from Australia may also comply with Standard 1.4.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and New Zealand food exported to Australia may comply with the MRL Notice (link above).

Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (External website)

Requirements for New Zealand primary produce

Food produced under the Animal Products Act must also comply with requirements under the Animal Products Act 1999. See the Animal Products section of the website for more information.

Animal Products (Contaminants Specification) Notice 2008

Dairy producers operating under Risk Management Programmes must also comply with dairy standards. Check the dairy sector of this website for more information on residues.

Residues and chemical contaminants

MPI also maintains a database to provide exporters with information on pesticide MRLs established by New Zealand’s major trading partners.

Pesticide MRL Database

International database

An international MRL database is available by subscription.

International MRL database (External website)

Requesting the establishment of an MRL

The majority of requests to establish an MRL for an agricultural compound are made in association with an application for registration (or variation to a registration) under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act. The requirement for a new or amended MRL will be considered by the Approvals & ACVM Group as part of the appraisal of trade name product registration.

If a person or organisation requests establishment of a MRL not associated with an application under the ACVM Act (for example, an importer of food commodity into New Zealand), then they should contact the Approvals & ACVM Group (approvals@mpi.govt.nz) for details. MPI will require information (including relevant data sets) to confirm the residues in the food commodity, that the use is appropriate, and the toxicological end point (such as the Acceptable Daily Intake and/or the acute Reference Dose).