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French Companies Begin Random Residue Testing
March 15, 2002

The French dry legume industry has begun a random testing program in which dry legumes imported from all over the world will be analyzed for pesticide residue and traces of heavy metals.

The program was initiated by principal canners and dry packagers, in response to concerns that French health & safety food inspectors may be targeting dry legumes for special testing in early 2002. European Union regulations regarding maximum tolerance levels for pesticides, the absence of traces of heavy metals and general product traceability are now issues that the French industry considers to be a top priority.

The French-based international canning group Bonduelle, for example, is in the process of analyzing 40 different dry legume products, at a cost of approximately $800 each. The cost of testing will be shared by importers, who currently are legally responsible for guaranteeing the safety of the products they import.

The results of this testing program should be known soon and summarized in a document issued by the French Dry Legume Federation. According to the Federation, any supplier of dry legumes, from any country, who is found to be in violation of EU and French regulations will be informed of the violation and the nature of the problem in the hopes that the situation can be resolved before the seeding of the crop of fall 2002. Such resolutions could involve, for example, a lowering of the dosage of certain pesticides, or switching to a substitute pesticide that is allowed under EU legislation.

One national French canner, William Saurin, has begun sending a general specifications document to its dry legume suppliers that outlines in detail the requirements that must be met under EU and French legislation in terms of pesticide residue, traces of heavy metals and product traceability. Suppliers are asked to review the document, which has been drafted in English, and to sign it, thereby acknowledging receipt of the specifications and willingness and ability to meet the requirements as described.

This type of document may soon become a model for many companies operating in France and throughout the EU.

 Source: National Dry Bean Council


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