Pesticides are used to fight weeds, protect crops from pests and fungal infestations, or to influence plant growth.

Pesticides is in some cases refered to as plant protection products.
The following text distinguishes between pesticides and plant protection products. The pesticide is the active substance and plant protection products are the product that contains both the active substance and excipients.

The purpose of pesticide use

The purpose of pesticide use is to increase yields by e.g. avoiding insect and fungal infestations. Pesticides can also be used to ripen fruits.

Pesticides may be used in the production of fruits, vegetables and cereals. Pesticide residues can therefore be found in these types of food. In fruits, vegetables and cereals, you often find low concentrations of pesticide residues.
In organic production, very few pesticides can be used – and only in exceptional cases. 

Use of pesticides

Pesticides can be legally used for food production. However, only active substance pesticides authorised for the specific crop are allowed, i.e. if the plant protection product is used for carrots, the plant protection product must be authorised for carrots. On the label of the product there must be information on dosage and latest use before harvest, etc. In Denmark, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency gives approvals for the use of pesticides in food production.
Treatment with pesticides can cause residues of pesticides in mature crops. The level of pesticide residues depends on several factors:
• The higher the dose used, the higher the residual content.
• The closer to the time of harvest the crops are treated, the higher the residual content.
• There is a difference in how quickly a substance decomposes and disappears from the crop.
Some pesticides are used for post harvest treatment. Post harvest treatment prevents, for example, fungal infestation, germination or overripening of the crop during storage.

The maximum residue level values

All values for maximum residue levels (MRL) can be found in amendments to the EU Regulation on Pesticide Residues, Regulation 395/2005.
There are maximum residue levels for pesticides in all types of food, except fish and fish products. You can see the grouping of foods in the EU Regulation 2018/62.
This Regulation describes the part of the food to which the maximum residue level applies.
It can be difficult to read the maximum residue levels in the consolidated version of the regulation. Due to that, the Commission has created a 

database with search facilities

The maximum residue level is not directly set out in Annex 1 to Regulation 396/2005 for processed and composite products. For these products, you can calculate the maximum residue level based on the residue level of the ingredients. The calculation must take into account both changes in the concentration of pesticide residues due to processing and the quantity of each ingredient (see Article 20 of Regulation 396/2005).