CIPC Temporary Maximum Residue Levels – what to expect

A maximum residue level (MRL), is the largest amount of a chemical residue that is allowed to be detected on a product. Any amount over that level would exceed the MRL, meaning it is illegal to trade or market that commodity.
In the case of CIPC, the current MRL is 10 parts per million (ppm).

Temporary Maximum Residue Level Update

It is now illegal to store or use CIPC. 

On 28-29 September 2020, the EU Standing Committee on Plants Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) voted for a temporary MRL (tMRL) of 0.4 ppm for CIPC. This outcome is now moving through the European regulatory system and is expected to come into force in the summer of 2021. So, the current MRL of 10 ppm will remain in place until then.

It is anticipated that UK legislators will transpose the EU decision on the tMRL into UK regulations so that there is consistency following Brexit.

Regulators asked for samples of potatoes from stores that had previous CIPC use but had not been treated with CIPC directly. AHDB helped to source potatoes from commercial stores in the UK for this project – you may have seen the requests in our 2018-19 Storage Bulletins.

The final decision was based on an assessment of consumer safety which was backed by a survey of contamination levels in store across Europe.

Is this tMRL achievable?

CIPC contamination data collected in 2019 from a representative sample of 11 UK stores shows that none of the stores exceeded the 0.4 ppm tMRL that has been voted on.

We expect this tMRL to be achievable by the UK industry - but only if a rigorous programme of cleaning is followed in the long term, in order to minimise CIPC residue risk. We do know that this proposed tMRL was exceeded in a number of potato stores that were surveyed in the UK and Europe in 2018, so there is no room for complacency.

Once stores are empty it’s important to get cleaning as soon as possible. Take a look at our store cleaning page for guidance and resources, including the EU-wide cleaning protocol. Talk to your customers about their expectations regarding CIPC residue levels this season. It is important also to keep records of your cleaning operations, your customer may need to see these.

How long will it last for, and will it change?

There are no guarantees on how long the tMRL will last. But we have seen tMRLs last for many years in other instances – for example with diphenylamine in apples.
Ultimately, the regulators will aim to gradually reduce the tolerance down to the Limit of Quantification (LOQ) level, which is 0.01 ppm. So any tMRL will reduce over time. Regulators could potentially retain the sanction of unilaterally reducing the tMRL to the LOQ, putting previously CIPC-treated stores at risk.

To reach these goals, it is expected that regulators will want to see progress being made through store cleaning. It will be the store managers/owners responsibility to ensure cleaning is sufficient to keep contamination levels below the tMRL.

What can be done and what support will be on offer?

The key message remains that store cleaning must start as soon as it can and follow the steps set out in the cleaning guidance given here.

AHDB’s Storage Advice Line is also available for further guidance - call 0800 02 82 111.

The Potato Industry CIPC Stewardship Group will continue to run a CIPC stewardship programme to provide proactive support to industry.

AHDB’s Storage Advice Line is also available for further guidance -  call 0800 02 82 111