Requirements for Exporting Fruits and Vegetables to the European Union
When exporting fresh fruit and vegetables to Europe you have to comply with the following requirements.
Limited use of pesticides
The European Union (EU) has set Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides in and on food products. Strict compliance with MRLs and the prevention of microbial contamination are preconditions for entering the European market

Products containing illegal pesticides or higher amounts than allowed will be withdrawn from the EU market. Note that buyers in several Members States use MRLs, which are stricter than the MRLs laid down in EU legislation. Most supermarkets have their own standards (codes of practices) regarding pesticides, which are stricter than legislation. Your buyer will then also impose them on your products.
To find out the MRLs that are relevant for your products, you can use the EU MRL database in which all harmonized MRLs can be found. You can select your product or pesticide used and the database shows the list of the MRLs associated to your product or pesticide. Read more about MRLs in the EU Export Helpdesk.
 A good way to reduce the amount of pesticides, is applying integrated pest management (IPM). IPM is an agricultural pest control strategy that uses natural control practices such as importation of pests’ natural enemies. In addition to chemical spraying. The fewer chemicals you use, the better your marketing position is of your products.
 Check with your buyers if they require additional requirements on MRLs and pesticide use.

Control of food imported to the EU
To ensure food safety and avoid environmental damage, the EU has restricted the use of certain chemicals (MRLs) in several Regulations and Directives. Your products will be subjected to official controls. These controls are carried out to ensure that all foods marketed in the EU market are safe, i.e. in compliance with the requirements applicable to them. There are three types of checks:
1.1. Documentary checks
2.2. Identity checks
3.3. Physical checks

In the event of repeated non-compliance of specific products originating from particular countries, the EU can decide that controls will be carried out on an increased level or lay down emergency measures. Controls can be carried out at all stages of import and marketing in the EU. However, most checks are done at the points of entry in the EU.
For importers of fresh fruit and vegetables, the traceability of products is compulsory. To fulfil this obligation, importers in the EU must require exporters to provide proof of the origin of all fruits and vegetables.

 Familiarize yourself with the procedures. Failure to follow the right procedures could cause decrease and delay of orders, increase costs and result in actions by EU enforcement authorities.
 Make sure that the accompanying documents (such as bill of lading) exactly correspond with the food products contained in the consignment including indicated volumes, classes and sizes, number of pallets and boxes, name of growers and volumes.
 Check if there are any increased levels of control.
 Read more about health control in the EU Export Helpdesk.
Marketing standards
EU legislation sets general and specific marketing standards for all Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (FFV) regarding the minimum quality and the minimum maturity. FFV not covered by a specific marketing standard (‘SMS’) have to comply with the general marketing standards (‘GMS’).
There are specific marketing standards for the following FFV: apples, citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, lettuce, peaches and nectarines, pears, strawberries, sweet peppers, table grapes, and tomatoes. These products must be accompanied with a certificate of conformity with each consignment. Imports of products intended for processing are not subject to compliance with the EU marketing standards. However, these must be clearly marked by the pack with the words "intended for processing" or other equivalent wording.
 Check which standards are applicable to you and make sure your products and the necessary documentation are in order. Read more about marketing standards in the EU Export Helpdesk.

Food placed on the EU market must meet the legislation on food labelling.
Cartons of FFV must mention the following particulars:
• The name and the address of the packer and the dispatchers
• The name of the produce (if the produce is not visible from the outside of the packaging)
• The country of origin
• The class and size (referring to the marketing standards)

 Make sure that all mandatory information is mentioned, but also think of other useful information e.g. logos of importers or certificates. Read more about food labelling in the EU Export Helpdesk

Plant Health
Fruit and vegetables exported to the EU, must comply with the EU legislation on plant health. The EU has laid down phytosanitary requirements to prevent introduction and spread of organisms harmful to plants and plant products in the EU. The requirements mainly imply that:
• Certain listed organisms are not allowed to be imported into the EU, unless specific circumstances apply.
• Plants or plant products specified in Part B, Annex V of Directive 2000/29/EC must be accompanied by a plant health certificate.
 Check with the relevant National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) or your EU importer what the requirements are applying to your product. If a phytosanitary certificate is needed (consult the EU Export Helpdesk) for EU entry, arrange one with your NPPO and ask your EU importer for specific requirements. A model phytosanitary certificate can be found through Annex VII (p.170) of the Plant Health Directive.
 Read more about plant health in the EU Export Helpdesk

Contaminants are substances that have not been intentionally added to food, but which may be present as a result of the various stages of its production, packaging, transport or holding. To avoid negative impact on the quality of food and risks to human health, the EU has set limits for several contaminants. Especially the limits for Nitrate (in spinach and lettuce) and metals (cadmium, lead, mercury and inorganic tin) are relevant for fresh fruit and vegetables.
 Find the relevant contaminant levels in the annex of Regulation (EC) 1881/2006. All contaminants are presented and maximum levels are provided per product or groups of products. Check if your food product is included in one of the product groups. Be aware that the particular product may not be mentioned specifically but can be included in a product group. For instance, mango may not be found, but fruit can.
 Check out the Code of Practice for fresh fruits and vegetables published by the FAO
 Find out more about prevention and reduction of lead contamination in the Code of Practice published by the Codex Alimentarius.
 Check the European Commission’s factsheet on food contaminants "Managing food contaminants: how the EU ensures that our food is safe"
 Read more about contaminants in the EU Export Helpdesk.

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