Guidelines for maximum residue levels in honey

Plant nectar and pollen collected by honey bees may contain residues of active substances from plant protection products. These substance residues can then appear in honey. Guidelines have now been drawn up for these residues. This also has consequences for floriculture, since bees can forage on ornamental plants as well as edible crops. The plant protection products used in floriculture are therefore no longer assessed only for risks to the environment or harmful consequences for bees; due to human consumption of honey, from now on they must also comply with maximum residue levels, just like products used for edible crops.

Until recently, no suitable method was available for setting an appropriate maximum residue level (MRL) for residues in honey. As a result, this MRL was set at a default level of 0.05 mg/kg for the various substances found in honey. To fill this gap, the European Commission has now drawn up specific guidelines for honey: Technical guidelines for determining the magnitude of pesticide residues in honey and maximum residue levels in honey' (SANTE / 11956/2016 rev.9). These guidelines will be implemented and included in the Evaluation Manual from 1 January 2020.

From 1 January 2020, applicants must use these MRL guidelines when checking potential residue levels of their active substance or product in pollen and bee products. This also applies to product applications for ornamental plants only.