Lidl's Pesticide Reduction Programme

Pesticide Reduction

Through its ‘Pesticide Reduction Programme’, Lidl is committed to working in partnership with its global suppliers and producers to achieve sustainable reductions in the use of plant protection products or pesticides.

Through extensive analysis and close dialogue with suppliers and producers, Lidl closely monitors emerging active ingredient residues within its fresh produce range and takes action to ensure these are being reduced.

In addition to this, Lidl GB is a corporate member of Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF), the leading organisation delivering more sustainable food and farming. Through our engagement with LEAF we are committed to supporting Integrated Farm Management (IFM). IFM uses and encourages continual improvement in pest control measures that have minimal impact on the environment and human health, and which promote sustainability and profitability. A well established and managed crop will be more competitive with weeds, more resilient to attack from pests and diseases and should require fewer pesticide products.

Background: Why do pesticide residues occur in fresh produce?

To ensure the highest quality fruit and vegetables, active ingredients, also known as pesticides or post-harvest treatments can be  used as part of cultivation, post-harvest treatment, packaging and storage production processes. The use of the active substances are critical within the supply chain but they can leave residues on fruit and vegetable products. Through our programme we are committed to ensuring that our fresh produce range is as free from active substance residues as possible.

What are the legal limits for pesticide residues?

The European Union Regulation (EC) No. 396/2005 (launched in September 2008) stipulates provisions relating to maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin, which apply directly to every member state. Within this regulation, which is also adopted within the UK, MRLs have been set to protect consumers against unnecessarily high residue levels and the associated health risks. 

Within fresh produce, MRLsare assessed based on products that are unwashed, uncleaned and unpeeled. MRLs are determined by experts from the member states of the European Union and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and act as legally binding requirements.

To ensure that consumers are protected as much as possible, the so called ALARA principle (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) is followed. This means that MRLs are set per product based on the requirements of good agricultural practices and never higher than toxicologically justifiable.

What are "multiple residues" in fresh fruit and vegetables?

“Multiple residues” occur when two or more active substance residues remain on a product. These could derive from active substances used as pesticides as well as post-harvest treatments. Special attention is taken when multiple residues are identified due to the potential additive effect of substances that have the same effect on the same target organisms. However, the occurrence of multiple residues does not prevent the legal marketability of end products, as long as each individual active ingredient residue complies with its legal maximum level.

What is the Acute Reference Dose (ARfD)?

The ARfD is an estimate of the amount of a substance in food or drinking water that can be ingested over a short period of time, usually during one meal or one day, without appreciable health risk to the consumer. The actual intake of a substance by the consumer is based on measured residues of active substances and the maximum expected consumption quantities. The ratio of exposure to ARfD for the detected active substance residue is determined as the utilization of the acute reference dose and shown as a percentage. Values up to 100 percent are classified as harmless.

The Lidl specification values for fruit and vegetables

As part of the Lidl Pesticide Reduction Programme, Lidl has worked expert partners to develop its own MRLs. These are known as the “Lidl Specification Values” for fresh produce. These levels significantly exceed legal requirements and ensure high levels of protection for our customers.


Maximum Residue Level (%)


Percentage of ARfD (%)


Single Substance

Sum of substances

Max. number Actives

Single substance 

Legal Limit





Lidl Specification





“Lidl Specification Values” for fresh produce are among the strictest in the food industry and form the basis of Lidl’s ‘Early Warning Prevention System’ with its global suppliers. This ensures:

  • The detected content of an active substance residue does not exceed one third of the legal maximum limit
  • The sum of the percentage utilization of the legal maximum quantity of all active substance residues does not exceed 80 percent
  • The number of residues does not exceed five
  • The percentage utilization of the acute reference dose by one active ingredient residue does not exceed 100 percent

Strategic Active Ingredients List for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

Lidl’s Quality Assurance (QA) department is committed to ensuring the food safety of the products sold in Lidl’s stores. As part of the approach to pesticide reduction, Lidl’s QA department established an expert technical committee with leading independent experts and scientific institutes from QA, analysis, agronomy and toxicology backgrounds to research and develop the “Strategic Substance List”. The purpose of this list was to identify and ultimately exclude undesirable active substances and contaminants from being used as part of agricultural production within Lidl’s supply chain.

The Lidl Strategic List of Substances has been developed taking into account several different parameters that influence consumer and environmental protection and species conservation. Important aspects that have been evaluated include the persistence in the environment and the impact on biodiversity. This list includes all the substances from the WHO list 1a/2b and Rotterdam/Stockholm Convention; one of the main aims of the list is to phase out majority of highly hazardous pesticides and pesticides harming pollinators, such as neonicotinoids.

To develop the “Strategic Substance List”, the committee took a scientific approach which defined and prioritised risk parameters. These parameters included consumer protection, user protection and environmental / species protection. For consumer protection, risk parameters included the "Acute Reference Dose" (ARfD), the "Acceptable Daily Intake" (ADI) and the “CMR classes” (i.e. carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to reproduction) of active ingredients.

The risk parameters for environmental protection considered the degradation and environmental behaviours of active ingredients as evaluated by the expert committee. Species protection focused specifically on the protection of bees, which are regarded by Lidl as critically important pollinators within agricultural production. Lidl therefore considered the impacts of crop protection products on biodiversity.

Lidl GB conducts on average 2815 residue analyses per year, with over 21,000 analyses conducted per year across the wider group. These results inform the approach of the expert technical committee and provide Lidl with a unique and up-to-date overview of the global residue outlook in the production of fresh produce.

Using the risk parameters described above, Lidl’s “Strategic Substance List” prioritises substances for removal in fresh produce. In collaboration with suppliers Lidl is working hard to move towards alternative active substances in its fresh produce supply chains. Implementation periods are agreed with suppliers to allow time to adapt to the new substances and find alternative approaches. Further support is provided from agronomists and crop protection specialists as part of this transition.

The “Strategic Substances List” is under constant review by the expert technical committee and updated as necessary in line with technical and legislative developments. We also encourage feedback from our suppliers to ensure they are part of the process.