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US EPA Proposes New Tolerance Limit for Permethrin in or on Multiple Commodities

SafeGuardSGrains, Cereals Grains and Pulses, Fruit and VegetablesAugust 28, 2020

On July 28, 2020, the US EPA established tolerance limits for permethrin in or on agricultural commodities. Objections and requests for hearing must be received on or before September 28, 2020.

Permethrin (CAS number 52645-53-1) is a member of the pyrethroid class of pesticides. Similar to other pyrethroids, permethrin acts on the nervous system of insects. It interferes with sodium channels to disrupt the function of neurons, and causes muscles to spasm, culminating in paralysis and death. Permethrin can be effective by contact or ingestion and also acts as a mild repellent. It is used on or in numerous food and feed crops, livestock and livestock housing, modes of transportation, structures, buildings (including food handling establishments), Public Health Mosquito abatement programs, and numerous residential use sites including use in outdoor and indoor spaces, pets, and clothing.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) evaluated that permethrin was a weak carcinogen but it was highly toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates, therefore, it was classified as a Restricted Use Pesticide (RUP). Permethrin was first registered, and tolerances established, in the United States in 1979 for use on cotton and between 1982 and 1989 an additional 55 crop tolerances were approved for a wide variety of crops, including various fruits and vegetables, meat, milk and eggs. [1]

Recently, the revised tolerance expression makes clear that the tolerances cover residues of permethrin and its metabolites and degrades. The tolerance limits will be determined by measuring only permethrin [(3-phenoxyphenyl) methyl 3-(2,2-dichloroethenyl)-2,2- dimethylcyclopropanecarboxylate], as the sum of its cis- and trans- isomers in or on the commodity. [2] Tolerance limits for permethrin are specified in Table 1.

Table 1

Cherry subgroup 12-12A
Fennel, Florence, fresh leaves and stalks
Leaf petiole vegetable subgroup 22B
Peach subgroup 12-12B
Swiss chard
Tea, plucked leaves
Vegetables, tuberous and corn, subgroup 1C
Tolerances with regional registrations;
Fruit, small, vine climbing, except fuzzy kiwifruit, subgroup 13-07F

This regulation is effective July 28, 2020. Objections and requests for hearing must be received on or before September 28, 2020.

What do the changes mean?

This update has the potential to affect agriculture producers, food manufacturers, and pesticide manufacturers. Any imported foods destined for the United States must not be found to contain permethrin at levels exceeding the tolerance limit. To ensure compliance with food safety regulations, food producers should seek professional advice.

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Next Step:

The regulation will be in force on July 28, 2020. Objections and requests for hearing be received on or before September 28, 2020.

For enquiries, please contact:

Naovarat Dachprasat 
R&D Chemist - Food Technical Support Center
t: +66 2683 0541 ext 2168,2169 

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