Pesticide residue refers to the pesticides that may remain on or in food after they are applied to food crops. The maximum allowable levels of these residues in foods are often stipulated by regulatory bodies in many countries. Regulations such as pre-harvest intervals also often prevent harvest of crop or livestock products if recently treated in order to allow residue concentrations to decrease over time to safe levels before harvest. Exposure of the general population to these residues most commonly occurs through consumption of treated food sources, or being in close contact to areas treated with pesticides such as farms or lawns.
Many of these chemical residues, especially derivatives of chlorinated pesticides, exhibit bioaccumulation which could build up to harmful levels in the body as well as in the environment. Persistent chemicals can be magnified through the food chain and have been detected in products ranging from meat, poultry, and fish, to vegetable oils, nuts, and various fruits and vegetables