Maximum residue levels for agricultural compounds

Find information on maximum residue levels (MRLs) of agricultural compounds in food, and how to request an MRL.

Food sold or produced in New Zealand

A maximum residue level (MRL) is the highest level of an agricultural compound residue that is allowed in food. Residue levels in food must not exceed the relevant MRL. 

Find the list of New Zealand MRLs for a range of agricultural compounds in the Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds. For those not listed, it sets an MRL of 0.1 mg/kg.

All domestically produced food sold in New Zealand or intended for export must comply with the requirements in the MRL Food Notice.

Imported foods (unless from Australia) must comply either with:

Food imported from or exported to Australia

Food imported from Australia may be legally sold in New Zealand, as long as it complies with Australian requirements. The opposite is also true. Food imported from New Zealand into Australia is legal, as long as it complies with New Zealand requirements.

So, in addition to the options above, food imported from Australia may also comply with Standard 1.4.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. And New Zealand food exported to Australia may comply with the MRL notice.

Other requirements for NZ primary produce

Animal products

If you produce food derived from animals or animal products, like meat and milk, it must also not exceed maximum contaminant levels. These are listed in the Animal Products Notice: Contaminant Specifications.  

Dairy producers operating under risk management programmes (RMPs) must also comply with dairy standards.

Fruit and vegetables

If you export fruit and vegetables, check our database with pesticide MRLs set by New Zealand’s major trading partners.

International MRL database

An international MRL database is available by subscription. This has MRLs for markets around the world (it's not an MPI database). 

MRL requests

There are 3 types of MRL request. You can request an:

  • MRL for domestic use of an agricultural compound
  • import MRL for food produced outside New Zealand
  • MRL exemption for domestic use of an agricultural compound (these are listed in Schedule 2 and 3 of the MRL Notice).

Most requests to set an MRL are made when you apply to register or vary registration of an agricultural compound. MPI considers the requirement for a new or amended MRL as part of the registration process.

Request an MRL or an MRL exemption

Some requests to set an MRL are not associated with a registration application. For example, you may need to request an MRL to import food into New Zealand. 

To request an MRL or an MRL exemption, download and complete the application form. The form tells you what information you need to provide.

We need the information (including relevant data sets) to:

  • confirm the level of residues in the food commodity
  • establish that the use of the agricultural compound is appropriate
  • find the toxicological end point (such as the acceptable daily intake and acute reference dose)
  • establish residue definitions (for dietary intake and compliance).
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