Food producers are under increasing pressure to satisfy demand from a growing global population. Concurrently, they must ensure their products comply with progressively more complex international food safety regulations. How can food operatives simplify regulatory monitoring while ensuring their products remain compliant?


The biggest challenge for manufacturers selling raw agricultural products and processed food in global markets is the need to comply with many different regional regulations concerning maximum residue limits (MRLs). This is made more difficult by the fact that besides CODEX, there are no standardized international rules, only guidance for specific food items or groups that includes ‘recommended MRLs’.

The establishing of MRLs is generally left to individual countries, which must create different MRLs for each of hundreds of restricted substances and the numerous food products that can be contaminated. The resulting international MRL lists are therefore extremely long, containing thousands of MRLs for each country. For example, simply looking at the MRL rules for apples in three territories shows the potential for complexity. (see table 1)

Substances China United States European Union


CAS RN: 71751-41-2

0.02 mg/Kg No Limit Defined 0.01 mg/Kg


CAS RN: 135410-20-7

0.08 mg/Kg No Limit Defined 0.08 mg/Kg


CAS RN: 135158-54-2

No Limit Defined 0.05 mg/Kg 0.01 mg/Kg
Table 1

To ensure continued access to international markets and avoid the repercussions associated with non-compliance, food operatives need to simplify the process of monitoring everchanging international food regulations.

Restricted Substances

SGS has added a new functionality to its Digicomply content management platform – ‘Restricted Substances’. This specialist function supports businesses around the world as they monitor international MRL information.

Restricted Substances provides constant horizon scanning of global regulations, returning information on over 175,000 substances in more than 40 countries. This function also provides valuable data on other contaminant limits, including veterinary drug MRs, mycotoxins and heavy metals. Results are summarized in comparison tables that let operators easily extract and evaluate potential impacts on supply chains, allowing immediate corrective actions.

Utilizing Restricted Substances on SGS Digicomply gives food manufacturers and suppliers instant access to relevant information on any restricted substance. In addition, it provides a fully translated regulation text in English, alongside the original transcript, to allow further investigation.

Companies selling on international markets need a simplified data gathering tool that they can trust to keep them ahead in a constantly evolving regulatory landscape. Restricted Substances adds critical functionality to their compliance risk mitigation procedures.

Discover more about restricted substances >

Case Study: MOWI

Formally Marine Harvest, MOWI is the world’s largest producer of Atlantic salmon. It supplies farmed salmon to more than 70 markets and, like all global seafood players, is challenged by the everchanging regulations and standards enforced around the world.

Mowi has chosen to work with SGS Digicomply to ensure its products remain compliant in each of the 70 markets. It utilizes Digicomply to find and update individual requirements, allowing them a better understanding of the specifics required for salmon in each territory. (see table 2)

Read the full case study for more insights >

Subtances Canada Japan


AS RN: 83121-18-0

0.3 ppm

Muscle of salmonids

No Limit Defined

Muscle of salmonids

No Limit Defined


0.5 ppm


3.2 ppm

Skin of salmonids

No Limit Defined

Skin of salmonids
Table 2

SGS Solution: Digicomply

SGS Digicomply is a powerful content management platform that combines high technology
with the expertise of SGS food compliance teams. It sorts and classifies huge volumes of global
compliance data, creating a single, coherent and reliable source of useful information for food operatives.

Digicomply delivers insight into the regulatory development process, supports decision-making and ensures security and efficiency as a single point-of-data. For food manufacturers and suppliers looking for risk mitigation in an increasingly regulated world, SGS Digicomply offers end-to-end solutions that improve compliance processes., wherever they are operating in the world.

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For the complete range of SGS services and support visit

Nicola Colombo
Head of SGS Digicomply
t: +41 215520976