US: Trends in neonicotinoid pesticide residues in food and water

The highest detection frequencies (DFs) for neonicotinoids by year on all commodities were generally below 20%. Average DFs over the entire study period, 1999–2015, for domestic and imported commodities were similar at 4.5%. For all the samples (both domestic and imported) imidacloprid was the neonicotinoid with the highest overall detection frequency at 12.0%.

However, higher DFs were observed for specific food commodity-neonicotinoid combinations such as: cherries (45.9%), apples (29.5%), pears (24.1%) and strawberries (21.3%) for acetamiprid; and cauliflower (57.5%), celery (20.9%), cherries (26.3%), cilantro (30.6%), grapes (28.9%), collard greens (24.9%), kale (31.4%), lettuce (45.6%), potatoes (31.2%) and spinach (38.7%) for imidacloprid.

Neonicotinoids were also detected in organic commodities, (DF < 6%). Individual commodities with at least 5% of samples testing positive for two or more neonicotinoids included apples, celery, and cherries. Generally, neonicotinoid residues on food commodities did not exceed US Environmental Protection Agency tolerance levels. Increases in detection trends for both finished and untreated water samples for imidacloprid were observed from 2004 to 2011.

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