Technical Bulletin – Perchlorates

The European Commission has set different MRL’s for salad crops and herbs grown under protection (glasshouses and undercover) and outdoors for intra-Union trade.

Surveillance data shows higher levels of perchlorate in salad crops and herbs grown under
protection than those outdoors. Fertilizers containing perchlorate used via irrigation in crops grown under protection will lead to an accumulation of perchlorate in the soil/growing medium giving rise to high levels in the final product. In open field production, particularly in areas with high rainfall, the persistence, presence and accumulation of perchlorate will be highly diluted. Due to these reasons the Commission decided to set different levels as reference for lettuce, celery, spinach, herbs and salad plants which are grown indoor (glasshouses and undercover) and outdoor.

Unless lettuce, herbs, celery, spinach and salad plants grown under cover (protected) are labelled as such, levels for these commodities grown in the open air (open-grown) shall apply. If information on growing condition is not provided on the sample (is not available for the laboratory), the laboratory will apply a stricter level (0.2 ppm instead of 0.5 ppm or 1ppm, depending on the commodity).

Exceptions apply to a few other product categories which are summarised below:

Fruits and Vegetables – 0.1mg/kg

With the following exceptions :

Celery and spinach grown in glasshouse/under cover – 0.5 mg/kg
Herbs, lettuce and salad plants, including rucola, grown in glasshouse / under cover – 1.0 mg/kg
Cucurbitaceae and other leafy vegetables – 0.2 mg/kg
Dried spices (except dried herbs and paprika), dried hops – 0.5 mg/kg
Tea (dried) – 0.75 mg/kg
Herbal and fruit infusions – 1.0 mg/kg
Food for infants and young children ready-to-eat – 0.02 mg/kg
Other Foods – 0.05 mg/kg

Currently, the European Commission excludes a possibility to harmonise the levels as reference for lettuce, herbs, celery, spinach and salad plants grown indoor and outdoor, unless the EU Member States can agree on the harmonisation adopting stricter levels.

The provisional enforcement is to address problems and tensions in the intra-Union trade. Competent authorities of Member States can determine to which extent they enforce the levels of perchlorate as reference for intra-Union trade for their domestic production/products placed on their domestic market.


Statement as regard the presence of perchlorate in food endorsed by the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feeds on 10th March 2015

Additional information can be obtained from SAL
Dr Naresh Patel – 01954 782791