Guide to codex recommendations concerning pesticide residues

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Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme


CAC/PR 4-1989






Rome, 1989




Introduction iv

Common and scientific names of commodities iv

Code numbers for food groups, sub-groups and individual commodities v

Explanation of changes in the group of the previous classification vi

Index of classes, types and groups of commodities vii

Class A primary food commodities of plant origin vii

class b primary food commodities of animal origin vii

class c primary animal feed commodities viii

class d-processed foods of plant origin viii

class e processed foods of animal origin ix

INDEX OF GROUP LETTER CODES (in alphabetical order) x

Index of Food and Animal Feed Commodities (in alphabetical order) xii




The Codex Classification of food and animal feed commodities moving in trade and the descriptions of the various items and groups of food and animal feedstuffs included in the present document have been developed within the framework of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues, using the services of FAO consultants (see para 56, ALINORM 87/24). The Classification has been developed over several years in such a way as to ensure that the comments of Governments of the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues and of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues could be taken fully into account. *

The Codex Classification includes food commodities and animal feedstuffs for which Codex maximum residue limits will not necessarily be established. The Classification is intended to be as complete a listing of food commodities in trade as possible, classified into groups on the basis of the commodity’s similar potential for pesticide residues (see also page iii, Introduction). The Classification may also be appropriate for other purposes such as setting maximum levels for other types of residues or for other contaminants in food.
The Codex Classification should be consulted in order to obtain a precise description of the food or animal feed commodities and, especially, in cases where Codex maximum residue limits have been set for groups of food and groups of animal feedstuffs. It is hoped that the Codex Classification will promote harmonisation of the terms used to describe commodities which are subject to maximum residue limits and of the approach to grouping commodities with similar potential for residue for which a common group maximum residue limit can be set.
The valuable work of Mr Reo E Duggan (USA), who developed the original “Definition and Classification of Food, and Food Groups” (Ref. CAC/PR 1-1978), Prof AFH Besemer (The Netherlands), who prepared the present revised Codex Classification and Ms P Hakkenbrak (The Netherlands), who undertook the computerisation of the Codex Classification is gratefully acknowledged.

* Corrections and proposed additions or other changes should be sent to the Secretary of the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues, Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Via delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.



This part of the Guide consists of a glossary of definitions of food and certain categories of animal feeds, together with explanatory notes. These descriptions are intended primarily to ensure the use of uniform nomenclature and secondarily to classify foods into groups and/or sub-groups for the purpose of establishing group maximum residue limits for commodities with similar characteristics and residue potential.
The design of the new edition of the Codex Classification is in principle similar to the original classification included in the Guide to Codex Maximum Limits for Pesticide residues, CAC/PR 1-1978. The latter classification, generally known as the “Duggan classification”, is still an excellent framework, which did not need changing in its general layout but needed up-dating and improvement in respect of several common names for food or feed commodities and definitions, especially since MRLs have been proposed by the JMPR in recent years for several commodities not included in the former classification or for which the descriptions were not precise. These MRLs moved through the Codex procedure but were not satisfactorily accommodated by the Codex Classification.
A further reason for revision was to facilitate the computerisation of Parts 2 and 3 of the Guide, for which the previous classification was not suitable.
The major differences in exposure to pesticides and metabolites of pesticides in plants and animals call for a primary classification into foods and feeds of plant origin and those of animal origin. Processed foods prepared from these primary food commodities are again separated into those of plant origin and of animal origin. Multi-ingredient manufactured foods containing ingredients of both plant and animal origin are listed as plant or animal origin depending upon the main ingredients.
The Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues adopted at its 12th (1980) Session the following guidelines to determine the circumstances in which Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) should be developed for processed foods and how processed foods not covered by specific MRLs should be handles.
“a. For the purpose of establishing and enforcing maximum residue limits, raw agricultural commodities include, among other things, fresh fruits, whether or not they have been washed, waxed or otherwise treated in their unpeeled or natural form; vegetables in their raw or natural state, whether or not they have been stripped of their outer leaves, washed, waxed or otherwise treated in their unpeeled form, cereal grains, nuts, eggs, raw whole milk, meats and similar agricultural produce. The Classification and Definition of Processed Foods is set out in Appendix I to document CX/PR 80/6 (see Class D and E of this Guide).”
“b. Whilst the definition of raw agricultural commodities (see Class A and B of this Guide) does not include foods that have been processed, fabricated or manufactured, eg by cooking, freezing, dehydrating or milling, maximum residue limits should also be recommended for some partly processed commodities such as milled cereal products and vegetables and animal fats, which are important items in international trade.”
“c. As processing and cooking generally remove or destroy a substantial amount of the residue present on the raw commodity, for most processed foods the MRL for the raw agricultural commodity applies also to the processed food derived from that specific commodity, provided residues have been removed to the extent possible during processing and provided residues in the processed food do not exceed that in the equivalent weight of the raw agricultural commodity. In the event residues are greater in the processed food than in the raw agricultural commodity from which it is derived, a separate MRL should be considered for the processed food.”
“d. In addition there are a number of situations where special considerations may be needed:

  1. when the processed food represents the sole or major food intake of infants and young children

  2. when toxic interaction or degradation products from pesticides are found in the food during or after processing

  3. when a significant residue results from a pesticide used in processing or storage practice (including impregnation of wrapping materials).”

Crops, parts of crops and other commodities which are used as animal feed, eg alfalfa, sugar beet tops, pea vines and hay, may contain residues and hence give rise to residues in products of animal origin. Such commodities are listed for convenience in a separate class: Class C - Primary Animal Feed Commodities

The food commodities selected for this classification are mainly those having current or potential significance in international or national trade. A limited number of commodities of regional importance have also been included.

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