Reliability of measurements of pesticide residues in food

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

42 Citations (Scopus)


This paper accounts for the major sources of errors associated with pesticide residue analysis and illustrates their magnitude based on the currently available information. The sampling, sample processing and analysis may significantly influence the uncertainty and accuracy of analytical data. Their combined effects should be considered in deciding on the reliability of the results. In the case of plant material, the average random sampling (coefficient of variation, CV=28-40%) and sample processing (CV up to 100%) errors are significant components of the combined uncertainty of the results. The average relative uncertainty of the analytical phase alone is about 17-25% in the usual 0.01-10 mg/kg concentration range. The major contributor to this error can be the gasliquid chromatography (GLC) or high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis especially close to the lowest calibrated level. The expectable minimum of the combined relative standard uncertainty of the pesticide residue analytical results is in the range of 33-49% depending on the sample size. The gross and systematic errors may be much larger than the random error. Special attention is required to obtain representative random samples and to eliminate the loss of residues during sample preparation and processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-304
Number of pages17
JournalAccreditation and Quality Assurance
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2004


  • Measurement reliability
  • Measurement uncertainty
  • Pesticide residue analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality

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