Maximum residue levels for agricultural compounds

Find information on meeting maximum residue level (MRL) requirements for agricultural compounds in New Zealand.

Requirements for food sold or produced in New Zealand

All imported and domestically produced food sold in New Zealand (except for food imported from Australia) or intended for export must comply with the requirements outlined in the current Food Notice: Maximum Residue Levels for Agricultural Compounds and Amendments.

The MRL Notice lists the MRLs for a range of agricultural compounds, but also includes a provision for residues of up to 0.1 mg/kg for agricultural compound/food combinations that are not specifically listed. In addition, the MRL Notice recognises the role of Codex Standards for imported food.

Under the MRL Notice, agricultural compound residues in food must

  • comply with the specific MRLs listed in the MRL Notice (including the default MRL of 0.1 mg/kg where no specific MRL is listed), or
  • if the food is imported, comply either with Codex MRLs (where applicable) or with the MRLs listed in the MRL Notice (including the default MRL of 0.1 mg/kg where no specific MRL is listed).

Find out more by referring to the following MRL sources: 

Food imported from or exported to Australia

Under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Arrangement (TTMRA), food imported from Australia may be legally sold in New Zealand, as long as it complies with Australian requirements. The converse is also true: food imported from New Zealand into Australia is legal, as long as it complies with New Zealand requirements.

Therefore, in addition to the options above, food imported from Australia may also comply with Standard 1.4.2 of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, and New Zealand food exported to Australia may comply with the MRL notice.

Requirements for New Zealand primary produce

Food produced under the Animal Products Act must also comply with requirements under the Animal Products Act 1999. 

Dairy producers operating under risk management programmes must also comply with dairy standards.

MPI also maintains a database to provide exporters with information on pesticide MRLs established by New Zealand’s major trading partners.

International database

An international MRL database is available by subscription.

Requesting the establishment of an MRL

The majority of requests to establish an MRL for an agricultural compound are made in association with an application for registration (or variation to a registration) under the Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines (ACVM) Act. The requirement for a new or amended MRL will be considered by MPI as part of the appraisal of trade name product registration.

If a person or organisation requests establishment of an MRL not associated with an application under the ACVM Act (for example, an importer of a food commodity into New Zealand), then they should contact MPI.

For more about MRLs, email

MPI will require information (including relevant data sets) for the following:

  • to confirm the level of residues in the food commodity,
  • to establish that the use of the agricultural compound is appropriate, and
  • to ascertain the toxicological end point (such as the acceptable daily intake and/or the acute reference dose).
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