The release of the United States Department of Food and Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program results should reinforce to consumers that both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables are being grown in an extremely safe manner.
According to a USDA press release, this year’s report shows that overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances (maximum legal residue levels) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Using a rigorous statistical approach to sampling along with the most current laboratory methods, the PDP report findings show that more than 95 percent of food samples analyzed did not contain pesticide residues above safety levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The USDA PDP tracks and monitors pesticide residues on foods and provides the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the pesticide information to ensure that EPA’s stringent use standards are being followed.
In addition to USDA and EPA, the Federal Food and Drug Administration as well as numerous state and county agencies monitor, oversee and enforce pesticide regulations in the U.S. In fact, the government testing requirements for pesticides allowed for use on foods are more extensive than for chemicals in any other category. The U.S. system regulating pesticides is also more stringent than the European standards.
“Because of these stringent safety standards with compliance verified by monitoring programs, like the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, consumers should not let fears regarding pesticide residues become a barrier to their consumption of the produce commonly found in the U.S. marketplace, regardless if the produce was grown under organic or conventional practices,” says Dr. Keen.
The Alliance for Food and Farming recently began an effort to provide consumers with credible, trustworthy and easy-to-understand information about the safety of all fruits and vegetables. The cornerstone of this effort is a website www.safefruitsandveggies.com which contains information from experts in toxicology, nutrition, risk assessment and farming. The site is designed to encourage increased consumption of all fruits and vegetables – whether they are organic or conventionally grown.
“A key piece of information on this website is an Expert Panel Report conducted by five scientists who reviewed claims made by special interest groups about the safety of fruits and vegetables with respect to pesticide residues,” said Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming. “This panel of scientists was clear that the food safety systems imposed by the government are health protective for all consumers, including infants, children and pregnant women.”
A full copy of the report and accompanying materials can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp.