SAFEGUARDS | Food NO. 018/17

SafeGuardS Looking At Cocoa Fruit On Tree In Indonesia Southeast Asia

MRLs for sulfuryl fluoride, proposed by the Pest Control Products Act, from Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) for crops imported to and sold in Canada, have been adopted by the World Trade Organization (WTO). They entered into force on December 29, 2016.

Sulfuryl fluoride is a colorless and odorless gas belonging to the group of inorganic acid halides. It is used for fumigation of sealed structures, stored cereals (wheat, rice, corn, and barley), dried fruits (banana, date, apple, grape, fig, and plum), and tree nuts (almond, pistachio, pecan, and walnut). The mode of action of this compound is to disrupt glycolysis and the citric acid cycle in insects, and also to inhibit oxygen uptake in insect eggs. Recently, as a result of being ozone friendly and a lack of insect resistance, sulfuryl fluoride has been considered an alternative to replace methyl bromide and phosphine.

Even though sulfuryl fluoride can be degraded into sulfate and inorganic fluoride, the remaining compound may still present on agricultural commodities after 24 hours aeration. Due to an acute hazard for humans, the EPA, Codex Alimentarius, European Union (EU), and Japan have set maximum residue limits (MRLs) at 3.0, 10, and 3.0 mg/kg for post-harvest fumigation of tree nuts including almond, pistachio, and walnut [1], [2], [3]. To comply with international food safety standards and avoid the issue of trade barriers, the authority of the Pest Control Products Act, Health Canada’s PMRA notified the WTO about its proposed MRLs for sulfuryl fluorides on tree nuts – Crop Group 14 (except almond nuts and pistachio nuts), cocoa beans, and peanuts [4]. After adoption by WTO, the new Canadian MRLs shown in Table 1 will be posted to the Health Canada website. Adherence to the limits will be strictly monitored.

Table 1.  Canadian MRLs of Sulfuryl Fluoride in Crops

Food Commodity MRL (ppm)1

Tree nuts
(except almond nuts and pistachio nuts)

All processed foods 2.0
Peanuts 0.5
Cacao beans 0.2
Cereal grains
(except sweet corn kernels plus cobs with husks removed)

1ppm = parts per million

What do the changes mean?

The Canadian MRLs have the potential to affect agricultural producers and food manufacturers importing goods from outside the country. The residue of pesticides in or on the food products destined for Canada must not exceed the above-mentioned MRLs. For support in complying with the food safety regulation, producers should seek professional advice.

SGS is committed to keeping you informed of regulation news and developments. Leveraging our global network of laboratories and food experts, SGS provides a comprehensive range of food safety and quality solutions, including analytical tests, audits, certifications, inspections, and technical support. We continually invest in our testing, capability, and state-of-the art technology to help you reduce risk, improve food safety and quality. For further more information, please visit our website:

For enquiries, please contact:

Amornpun Dajsiripun
Global Competence Support Centre Food Specialist
t: +66 2683 0541 ext 2423

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