May 2004 Issue--To avoid potential customer, consumer, or regulatory nightmares, growers, brokers, grocery chains, and food industry processors must properly address pesticide management. Any food organization needs to stay in step with the latest regulations and guidelines not only in its home country, but also anywhere around the world where it does business.

For Charley Schmidt, the task was not just to stay in pesticide compliance, but to do so economically and efficiently with sources that span six continents. As director of regulatory and quality systems for ATYS-US (Brecksville, Ohio), which provides high quality fruit preparations to American and Canadian food manufacturers, he was responsible for quick and accurate pesticide testing of fruit prior to shipment.

In his role, Schmidt also dealt with European pesticide compliance issues for his parent company, the ATYS Group, a world leader in fruit preparations for the food industry. European standards require lower pesticide detection levels than the U.S., as well as testing for heavy metals and other contaminants.

“We needed testing consultants who could give us an authoritative look at pesticide and contaminant regulations not only in the U.S. but also abroad,” said Schmidt. “They had to be knowledgeable on a range of chemicals used to stop insect infestations domestically and internationally. They had to keep us abreast of regulatory changes such as those brought on by the Food Quality Protection Act of 1995, which restricted the use of many chemicals and eliminated tolerances for many others. They had to be capable of clarifying our questions in a range of different countries, even on low-volume crops. And they had to do this all economically, while meeting logistics timelines.”

A Helping Hand

Based on previous experience, ATYS-US turned to The National Food Laboratory (The NFL), an independent subsidiary of the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), for their scientific expertise in food testing, formulation, processing, and sensory evaluation. The NFL has almost 30 years of experience assisting the food industry, including the joint development and validation of testing methods with the FDA, and the development and execution of pesticide management programs for clients.

Taking into account ATYS-US's needs for compliance, quality control, and risk assessment, The NFL implemented a number of Multi-Residue-Analysis (MRA), custom screens and single residues methods based on the fruit, country of origin, market sold to, special circumstances and other factors. The NFL did the research and consulted Grace Bandong, an in-house pesticide expert, to determine which tests ATYS-US needed.

Schmidt talked directly with The NFL's chemists and project managers to discuss and quickly resolve any pesticide issues. On one occasion, when differing pesticide test methods were encountered in Japan, one of The NFL's account managers flew to Japan.

“The NFL helps us search out chemicals used in various countries and understand the regulations, so wherever we ship or process product we are in full compliance with the law,” says Schmidt. “Their level of expertise helps us efficiently and economically test for the pesticides or contaminants in question. They validate test procedures, develop a specific test if needed, and are able to check for stringent European tolerances. They're flexible enough to expedite the process when needed, while maintaining high-quality data and analysis.”

The NFL tests for pesticides and contaminants all the way down to 10ppb. Besides offering comprehensive MRA screens including those for Organophosphate, Organonitrogen, Organosulfur, n-Methyl Carbamates, and Chlorinated Hydrocarbons, they also provide special tests for compounds not covered by MRA screens such as benomyl, glyphosates and phenoxy acids.

For more information:

ATYS-US, Kurt Seagrist, 800-477-3788

A Full-service NFL

The NFL can test for or advise on a wide range of food contaminants, including pesticides, mycotoxins and heavy metals. The company's decades of inter-disciplinary expertise also expedites resolving other related problems, such as chemical-packaging interactions, when the need occurs.

Pesticide reports from The NFL are similarly flexible for clients' needs. For example, separate reports can be generated for multiple samples and formatted as needed, including customized detection limits, sample numbering, etc.