For Organic pesticide levels, USDA organic regulation allows for pesticide/herbicide residue due to cross contamination up to 5% of the EPA tolerance for each pesticide on the specific product.
Some testing results will indicate pesticide residues for which EPA has not established a tolerance, and the FDA has not established an action level. Therefore, the USDA Organic limit defaults is 0.01 parts per million (ppm); however (and this is contradicting) the FDA level defaults to 0.00.
“FDA considers samples that contain pesticide residues for which no tolerances have been established by EPA to be in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA uses this information to develop compliance activities, such as conducting targeted testing or implementing Import Alerts to flag future shipments for closer scrutiny.”
Another caveat, chia seeds may not be considered “oilseeds” with regards to pesticide tolerances established by the EPA. I’ve been in contact with the EPA to establish with commodity grouping chia falls under. This is their reply as of June 2018: “The good news is that we are going to add chia seed to the cereal grain group, which is currently crop group 15 in 40 CFR 180.41. The bad news is that it will be a few years before that is implemented through rulemaking to revise 40 CFR 180.41. The crop group expert is currently working on all of the changes to the cereal grain group, which has to go through an internal approval process. Then it has to be included in a proposed regulation and a final regulation. We are currently working on Phases 5 and 6 of the crop group rule changes; the cereal grain group is likely to be in Phase 7.”
For oilseeds, glyphosate tolerances on conventional is 40 ppm, and therefore, for organic, the tolerance is 2 ppm. Diquat isn’t listed for oilseeds, and therefore the tolerance is 0 ppm. Other pesticides/herbicides can be searched using the link above.
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In summary, things are confusing, the government agencies are contradicting (according to what I’ve researched), and there is still gray area with regards to ‘chia seeds’ specifically.
“FDA considers samples that contain pesticide residues for which no tolerances have been established by EPA to be in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. FDA uses this information to develop compliance activities, such as conducting targeted testing or implementing Import Alerts to flag future shipments for closer scrutiny. “
You can check pesticide tolerance levels using the instructions on our previous post.
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