Alliance For Food and Farming Launches New Website!

New Safefruitsandveggies.com Website Will Improve Visitor Experience

News Release

The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) has launched an updated safefruitsandveggies.com website with new content and to improve visitors’ experiences on the increasingly popular site.

“The safefruitsandveggies.com website now receives tens of thousands of visitors each year,” said Teresa Thorne, AFF Executive Director.  “We want to continue to improve the site, retain our visitors, and attract new users.  The newly formatted site will help us to do that.”

New sections include “A Dozen Reasons to Eat Fruits and Veggies,” and “Five Facts About Produce,” which are based upon popular blog posts.  These sections provide quick and easily-retained information about the benefits of eating fruits and veggies as well as the safety of organic and conventional produce.

The Safety Standards section of the website, which provides comprehensive information about the stringent regulations governing the approval and use of organic and conventional pesticides, has also been updated.

“This has become among the most visited sections of safefruitsandveggies.com because all the pesticide regulation information from various government agencies can be found in one place,” Thorne said.  “Instead of going through multiple searches and websites to learn more about these regulations, people can just come to safefruitsandveggies.com.”

Still to come are web pages specifically designed for nutritionists and dietitians to help them answer produce safety questions from consumers, their customers, and clients.

“This new web page was actually requested by dietitians, and we are excited to have their input as we build the content,” Thorne said.

“Since research shows consumers find dietitians and nutritionists are among the most credible sources when it comes to pesticide residues and produce safety, it is important they have readily usable information,” Thorne added.

Among the most visited website section continues to be the residue calculator, which shows consumers they could literally eat hundreds to thousands of servings of a fruit or veggie in a day and still not have any health effects from residues.

“All of the website content is either based upon peer reviewed research or on analyses by experts in the areas of toxicology, risk analysis, nutrition and farming,” Thorne said.  “Consumers can also view 40 videos featuring farmers and scientists, as well as information about peer reviewed studies.”

The AFF works to provide credible, science-based information so consumers can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families.

“The safefruitsandveggies.com website is the cornerstone of our efforts,” Thorne said. “By providing facts about produce safety and countering misinformation, we hope to remove fear as a barrier and encourage increased consumption of all forms of produce.”

Americans Need to Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

After Nearly 25 Years, It’s time to Advocate for Consumption

News Release From SafeFruitsAndVeggies.com

There is so much good stuff to say about organic and conventional produce, from studies which clearly show the safety of both to decades of research that illustrate the disease-prevention aspects of these nutrient-dense foods.  Plus, farms and farming companies continue to develop innovative, convenient fruits and vegetables, which are helping to increase consumption.

But while we are making some headway, only one in 10 Americans eat enough produce according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Why?  Because barriers to consumption still exist. One of those barriers is safety fears generated by certain groups who inaccurately disparage the more affordable and accessible forms of produce.

Among the longest and biggest offenders comes from an activist group that annually releases its so-called “dirty dozen” list.  Since 1995, this group’s fear-based ‘marketing against’ tactic disparaging the most popular produce items has been used in an attempt to promote purchasing of organic products.

Look, we completely understand advocating for your members when the information is credible and the science is strong.  The AFF advocates on behalf of organic and conventional farmers of fruits and vegetables and the safety of their products every day.  But when you raise unfounded fears based upon unsupportable science about the only food group health experts universally agree we should eat more of, it is time to revisit your approach.  Especially when peer reviewed research is showing this tactic may result in low income consumers stating they are less likely to purchase any produce—organic or conventional—after learning about the “dirty dozen” list.

Put another way, according to these research findings, this activist group may actually be marketing against their own constituents’ organic products by releasing this list.

To summarize, the “dirty dozen” list is scientifically unsupportable, it may negatively impact consumers’ purchasing decisions, and it’s possibly even detrimental to the very products the list authors are trying to promote.   After almost 25 years, it is time to retire this tactic in favor of more creative “marketing for” strategies that encourage consumption and doesn’t scare consumers.

More Facts About the “Dirty Dozen” List

New So-called “Dirty Dozen” List is Baseless

News Release

To everyone that has read about the “Dirty Dozen” list and is now confused and conflicted about buying the more affordable and accessible fruits and veggies, this blog is for you.  Keep in mind that the “Dirty Dozen” list is designed to make you worry and be fearful.  After all, fear is a very powerful motivator, and the list authors attempt to increase safety fears to motivate and influence consumers’ produce buying decisions.

So here are some facts about the “Dirty Dozen” list that underscore you can consume either conventional or organic produce with confidence.  Both are safe, and the right choice is to eat more every day.

  • Arbitrary Methodology: According to Dr. Carl Winter, toxicologist, University of California, Davis.: “This year’s EWG list is produced using the same arbitrary methodology the EWG has used in the past.  Most importantly, the EWG focuses upon the presence (or absence) of pesticide residues in its methodology and public statements rather than on the actual amounts of pesticides detected, which are extremely low.  To accurately assess consumer risks from pesticides, one needs to consider three major factors – 1) the amount of residue on the foods, 2) the amount of food consumed, and 3) the toxicity of the pesticides.  The methodology used by EWG ignores all three.”
  • Meet Organic Standard: Did you know that the vast majority of conventionally grown produce tested by United States Department of Agriculture could qualify to be labeled “organic,” specific to their residue levels? It’s true. The USDA allows organic produce to have residues that are “less than 5% of EPA tolerances” and the majority of residues found on conventionally grown produce are below this level.  This nicely illustrates how low residues are, if present at all.
  • You Can Eat A Lot of Kale:  If you are concerned about residues on kale, you would have to eat a lot more each day to see any health effects.  In fact, a man would have to eat 26,061 servings in a day.. Click here to continue reading and to like and share this blog post. 

Crop Protection: U.S. Food System Very Safe

Crop Protection Products are Highly Regulated

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

There’s no need to worry about crop protection products when you consume food, fruits and vegetables, and all the rest, as the materials are highly regulated.

“Chemicals are all around us. In fact, we are all made of chemicals, so the fear of chemicals is unnecessary. Chemicals can actually be very beneficial,” said Dr. Eliza Dunn, Medical Sciences and Outreach Lead for Bayer Crop Science. “Chemicals make antibiotics and vaccines, and all of that is really important because it’s in public health, and they also protect the food supply.”

And here’s a fact: Pesticides a more heavily regulated that antibiotics that we take and those antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals are highly regulated.

“You have to do lots of testing to get your pharmaceutical in the market. Testing and monitoring pesticides are the same way. Pesticides come up for reevaluation every 15 years, and they look at all of the data that’s involved in that 15 years to make sure there’s nothing new that can be concerning for human health,” Dunn explained.

“These agencies have the best interests of people at heart. I wouldn’t feed my kids something that I thought was worrisome. And I feed my kids fruits, vegetables, and other foods, and I don’t worry about the residues because it’s not going to cause harm,” she said.

Dunn also commented on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List that they release each summer.

“It’s very unfortunate because it winds up causing people to get very worried about their food supply, and you can be absolutely reassured that the food supply in this country is safe and healthy and nutritious,” said Dunn. “We are so lucky to have access to such a fabulous food supply because there are other places in the world that don’t have access to that, and it’s because we have things like crop protection products that make sure that we have an access to that kind of food supply.”

As for the EWG’s statements that certain fruits have higher residues?

“That’s misinformation, unfortunately. They’re not toxic. We know that fruits and vegetables are healthy. If you are worried about residues, you can wash them off. It’s really fear-mongering, and that is irresponsible,” Dunn said.

Conventional or Organic Strawberries — All Safe to Eat

Strawberry Grower Says At PPB, Anything Can be Found

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

David Peck is a longtime strawberry grower in Santa Maria. He objects to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen list, which had strawberries at the top of their list.

David Peck, COO and Farmer of Manzanita Berry Farms in Santa Maria

“If you take the data that the EWG is presenting, you can say, yeah, okay, that’s fair,” Peck said.

“Based on what they are presenting, they can find detectable amounts of whatever at however many parts per billion. I’ll buy that; but they’d have no perspective on the types of residues and what that means regarding human health, human safety, and human risk,” noted Peck, who grows both conventional and organic strawberries.

Peck said that even organic strawberries would have detectable amounts of residues.

“I tell people that I grow organic strawberries and that I do not put on the crop protection materials that the EWG is talking about,” he explained.

“At parts per billion (PPB), you can find dozens of carcinogens at minute levels. Where did they come from? Well, they are everywhere in such small quantities that no one should worry about it,” Peck said.

Peck said that the decision for consumers is not organic versus conventional, but to eat more strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.

“I say eating California produce in general is so much healthier than avoiding California fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

The Alliance for Food and Farming works hard to bring the truth to the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. They report that all produce is healthy to eat and that consumers need to eat more every day. More Information at www.safefruitsandveggies.com

Dirty Dozen List has No Scientific Basis

Ag Industry Pushes Back on EWG Dirty Dozen List

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

The Environmental Working Group, headquartered in Washington D.C., with a local California office in San Francisco, has released its annual Dirty Dozen list. Topping the list again are strawberries, followed by spinach and many other fresh produce items.

The California agricultural industry is puzzled by the list because EWG provides no scientific evidence of residues on any of the itemized produce, according to Theresa Thorne, the newly named executive director of the Watsonville, California-based organization Alliance for Food and Farming.

The AFF exists to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of fruits and vegetables, and to counteract misinformation like EWG’s Dirty Dozen list.

Thorne explained, “We really try and work to provide science-based information to consumers so that facts — not fears — can guide their shopping choices. You just can’t, year after year, continue to call safe and healthy fruits and vegetables ‘dirty.’ Nevertheless, EWG has been doing this since 1995. So every year, we work aggressively to put our information out there to counter the misinformation that EWG puts out, so people can make the right shopping choices for their families.”

According to Thorne, the EWG manipulates data issued by the well-known government-issued USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Pesticide Data Program implemented through cooperation with state agriculture departments and other federal agencies. According to the USDA AMS website, “The PDP data show, overall, that pesticide residues on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and pose no safety concern.”

“But EWG goes through and manipulates that data,” Thorne said. “Even if there is some minute amount of residues detected, they are below safety threshold levels set by the EPA. According to a toxicologist from the Personal Chemical Exposure Program Department of Entomology at University of California, Riverside, you can eat an excessive amount of strawberries in a day, and still not have any health effects from residues. That’s how low residues are if they’re even present.”


Links:

Alliance for Food & Farming (AFF)

AFF Flyer

SafeFruitsandVeggies.com Pesticide Residue Calculator

  • Scientists and health experts overwhelmingly agree that the mere presence of pesticide residues on food does not mean they are harmful.
  • Use facts, not fear, to make healthy food choices
  • Health experts and scientists say produce, grown either conventionally or organically, is safe to eat for you and your children. Not only are conventionally and organically grown fruits and vegetables safe and nutritious, Americans should be consuming more of these, not less, if they hope to reduce their risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

Pesticide Data Program (PDP)

  • Pesticide data Program (PDP) is a national pesticide residue-monitoring program and produces the most comprehensive pesticide residue database in the U.S.

Personal Chemical Exposure Program (PCEP) Department of Entomology, University of California, Riverside

Dirty Dozen…Really?

Dirty Dozen Does Disservice

 

Following the April 12, 2016 release of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual Dirty Dozen list, Teresa Thorne, a spokesperson with the Watsonville-based Alliance For Food and Farming, a non-profit organization which exists to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of fruits and vegetables, conversed with California Ag Today’s Patrick Cavanaugh, farm news director and deputy editor,

California Ag Today: Let’s talk a little about the Dirty Dozen list that the EWG just published for 2016.

DPR on Food Safety
DPR on Food Safety

Thorne: They’ve been doing this for 20 years now, and it is concerning to us because they’re putting out misinformation about the safety of conventionally grown produce. We know that the products on this list are among the most popular among families, especially children. EWG targets them, and their efforts really scare moms and consumers away from conventionally grown. It makes no sense to us; I mean, both organic and conventionally grown are very safe. We should all be consuming more every day for better health. That’s really the message for consumers. This list—all it does is serve to confuse people.

California Ag Today: It’s all a big scare tactic to try to get everybody to think that only organic food is safe, right?

fruits&veggies more matters logo
Fruits & Veggies – More Matters

Thorne: We strongly believe that organic food is very safe, but we maintain the same for conventional. And it’s interesting also too, because in a recent study that really focused on Manhattan, the researchers found—and we did blog about this—that organic was not as available as they had previously thought. So, what happens to the mom who wants to buy strawberries for her child’s lunch, but only conventional strawberries are available? Now she’s scared because of what EWG has stated in really inflammatory language this year—over the top. Now what is she supposed to do? Her store doesn’t carry organic strawberries. Availability is very much an issue, as well accessibility and affordability. Conventionally grown still is the most accessible and affordable [produce]. So, to scare people away from that really does a disservice to consumers.

California Ag Today: Yes, and food safety experts from the USDA and California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), agree that any small risk from the trace [below legal thresholds set by the EPA] levels of pesticides found in fresh produce should not keep you from the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. DPR tracks food for pesticide residues, and they find 99 percent of all the fruits and vegetables grown in California—whether they’re organic or conventional—are safe to eat and we should be eating more of them.

Thorne: Absolutely, and that’s what’s also interesting; EWG—and we’ve called them on this in the past and they still have not changed—does not link, in their report, directly to USDA studies. They state over and over that they base their results on this USDA Agricultural Marketing pesticide data program (USDA PDP), but they don’t link to it. In what world do you not link to a study that, you basically state, you base your entire Dirty Dozen list upon? We find that quite odd.

We think the reason they don’t link is this simple: People will see that the USDA clearly states that residues do not pose a food safety concern. And that is in direct contrast to what [the EWG is] saying.

California Ag Today: Of course, if we wash the fruits and vegetables we eat, it helps. We should always wash produce to get the dirt off and talk about food safety in our own kitchens.

SafeFruitsandVeggies logoThorne: That’s right. Conventional and organic alike, wash them before you eat them. It’s a healthful habit that everybody should follow for various reasons. And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearly states that you can reduce or eliminate any residues that may be present on fruits and vegetables, simply by washing.

California Ag Today: One last question, Teresa. You’ve been terrific. The EWG has been losing some strength in their message over the years because the media is getting sharper and better at challenging the contradictions in their reports. We’ve got the Alliance for Food and Farming’s new SafeFruitsAndVeggies website now, and you guys are reaching out to the media, saying “Let’s be reasonable; let’s look at this from a scientific point of view, not an emotional point of view.” Do you want to comment on that? While they’re not being picked up as much anymore, they keep trying, now with strawberries at the top of the list, right?Strawberries1

Thorne: Yes, we think they’re using the tactic of putting another kid-popular fruit to re-spark interest. In fact, we predicted it in a blog a few weeks ago, in which we said interest from the media is declining because more reporters and bloggers are actually reading the USDA PDP report, seeing what it says. So, we actually predicted in our blog that they would do something like this. Our number one prediction was they would have a new number one on their list, and it would, of course, be a kid-popular fruit.

So, it will be interesting to see. We’re still early on in the process to see if they have had any success with that, but we believe that that was a tactic [EWG] tried to employ to revive very lagging media coverage on this list. They used to enjoy widespread media coverage back in the day.

__________________________

Resources:

Setting Tolerances for Pesticide Residues in FoodsUnited States EPA

Pesticide info: What You Should Know About Pesticides, “Pesticides and Food: How We Test for Safety,” California Department of Pesticide Regulation

The Pesticide Data Program: Helping Monitor the Safety of America’s Food SupplyUSDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Pesticide Residue Calculator, Alliance for Food and Farming

Alliance Against Food and Farmer Disparagement

The Alliance for Food and Farming Counters Food and Farmer Disparagement

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Laurie Greene and Courtney Steward, CaliforniaAgToday

Experts around the world agree that eating more fruits and vegetables is the best thing we can do to reduce disease, prevent obesity, and improve our health. But sometimes consumers need to know more about organic and conventional fruits and vegetables so they can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families.

The Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), based in Watsonville, is a non-profit organization comprised of both organic and conventional farmers that delivers credible information to consumers about the safety of organic and conventional fruits and vegetables.

According to Teresa Thorne, with AFF, “Many organizations such as Friends of the Earth (FOE), and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) are at odds with AFF for providing science-based and peer-reviewed information to consumers so they can make good shopping choices for their families.”

Friends of the Earth logo“Whether consumers purchase organic or conventional produce, both are safe,” Thorne said. “Health experts say simply that we should be eating more. Decades of nutrition science and health experts everywhere support the recommendation to eat more organic and conventional produce every day for better health. So, it is a little puzzling why FOE and some of the other activist groups would be concerned about that message. But, apparently they are.”

“So, what we are trying to do,” explained Thorne “is present accurate and more balanced information for consumers. Our Board of Directors, nearly 7 years ago, established that calling our healthy and safe produce “dirty” or “toxic” has to stop. We are not going to allow the disparagement of these nutritious products and the disparagement of the farmers who are working hard every single day to provide these healthy products to consumers, to stand.”

Thorne said, “So, AFF got in gear to stop it, largely by going toe-to-toe with the EWG’s so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ list—one of the main vehicles of product disparagement. Not long ago, when the EWG published the list, nearly all newspapers, television networks and cable channels gave it widespread media coverage in major media markets and publications.”

AFF has achieved some success by introducing peer-reviewed science from experts into consumer media, with the credible message that both organic and conventional produce are safe, healthful, and people should eat more of them every day. “Just in the course of the last six years of the campaign,” said Thorne, “we’ve seen coverage of the EWR list diminish to the extent that in 2015, only one daily newspaper in Ohio covered the story. So their message is mostly limited to blogs for those who are very friendly to their message.”

ewg logo

 

Aside from the “Dirty Dozen” list, the EWG website does support the same scientific research as the Alliance:

Should we eat more fruits and vegetables?

…The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables. And with EWG’s Shopper’s Guide™, consumers don’t have to choose between pesticides and healthy diets.

Do all these pesticides mean I shouldn’t eat fruits and vegetables?

No, eat your fruits and vegetables! The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. Use EWG’s Shopper’s Guide™ to reduce your exposures as much as possible, but eating conventionally grown produce is better than not eating fruits and vegetables at all.

Shouldn’t I try to buy everything organic?

EWG recommends buying organic whenever possible.

…However, we know that organics are not accessible or affordable for everyone, so we created the Shopper’s Guide™ to help consumers make the healthiest choices given their circumstances.

…EWG always recommends eating fruits and vegetables, even conventionally grown, over processed foods and other less healthy alternatives.

SafeFruitsandVeggies logo

AFF claims on its website:

We have an obesity epidemic and current media and internet reporting is increasing fears consumers have about eating fruits and vegetables and is lowering the faith people have in the government regulations implemented to protect them.  It is inaccurate to suggest that organic is the only safe choice when it comes to selecting safe fruits and vegetables; because there is no scientific consensus to substantiate this claim.

-See more at the Alliance’s website, SafeFruitsandVeggies.com.

Thorne believes the Alliance’s success has lead to another activist group, Friends of the Earth (FOE), taking them on. Thorne said FOE is trying to discredit the Alliance by calling it a “front group”.

In its “Spinning Food” report, published in June 2015, the FOE reports:CFBF logo

While the Alliance presents itself as a science-based resource on the safety of organic and conventional produce, its funding comes from trade groups for industrially grown apples, citrus, pears and grapes, among other industry groups.

The “leading corporate Board Members or Donors” of the Alliance are listed as:

-California Farm Bureau Federation

-Western Growers

-Produce Marketing Association

Western Growers logo

 

Wikipedia defines a front organization as “any entity set up by and controlled by another organization, such as intelligence agencies, organized crime groups, banned organizations, religious or political groups, advocacy groups, or corporations. Front organizations can act for the parent group without the actions being attributed to the parent group.”

Thorne stated, “We’re not a front group. We are who we are—very transparent. The entire tax return is posted on the “About Us” section of the AFF website, as well as:

Who is Behind the Alliance for Food and Farming?   andPMA Logo    How is the Alliance for Food and Farming funded?

“But they never attack the scientific content we present,” stated Thorne, “and that really underscores our science is good and solid. They only try to discredit the organization itself with those unfounded ‘front group’ allegations.”

SURPRISE: EWG recommends Fruits & Vegetables – Conventional or Organic

EWG to Continue Publishing  “Dirty Dozen” List of Conventional Produce

By Laurie Greene; CalAgToday Editor, Reporter

This week, Marilyn Dolan, the Executive Director of the Alliance For Food and Farming[1] (AFF) sent a letter to Environmental Working Group[2] (EWG) President Ken Cook requesting they discontinue their annual release of the so-called “dirty dozen” list. Scott Faber, EWG’s Vice President of Government Affairs responded online TODAY that “EWG’s top shelf advice is to eat your fruits and veggies. But, as EWG’s research shows, not all veggies are the same, and some have more pesticide residues than others. That’s why we will ignore the call to discontinue publishing our Shopper’s Guide.”Food Scoring Factors

This correspondence comes following EWG’s statement that organic and conventional produce are best foods for consumers and that organization’s new and strongly worded recommendation about the need for increased consumption of all fruits and vegetables – whether they are organically or conventionally grown. The statement accompanied the release of EWG’s Food Scores: Rate Your Plate, an easy-to-use food database and mobile app on October 27, 2014 that rates and shares information for more than 80,000 foods from about 1,500 brands in a simple, searchable, online format. “The new database is the most comprehensive food-rating database available to consumers,” EWG said in a statement. “Its scoring system factors in not only nutrition, but also ingredients of concern, such as food additives, and contaminants. It also estimates the degree to which foods have been processed.”

Each year, EWG publishes Shopper’s Guide To Pesticides In Produce “to help consumers find conventional fruits and vegetables with low concentrations of pesticide residues,” explained Sonya Lunder, EWG’s senior analyst and principle author of the report.  “If a particular item is likely to be high in pesticides, people can go for organic.”

While the annual Shopper’s Guide features a “Clean Fifteen” section of conventional produce with the least amount of pesticide residues, it is famous for its annual “Dirty Dozen” list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce and its Dirty Dozen™ Plus” highlights hot peppers and leafy greens – kale and collard greens – often tainted with unusually hazardous pesticides. The Alliance for Food and Fiber has worked hard to debunk the dirty dozen list,” said Dolan, “with good scientific evidence that even though produce may have crop protection product residues on a small percentage of the total volume of produce, the residue is far less than FDA standards.”

Here is the letter from AFF to EWG, in its entirety.

Mr. Cook:AFF

We noted your organization’s acknowledgment in the “Food Scores” database that both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables should be considered best food choices for consumers.  We also saw the Environmental Working Group’s new and very strong statement concerning the need to increase daily produce consumption for most Americans now posted on your website. 

As you are well aware, our organization, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), has repeatedly requested that you discontinue the publication of your annual “dirty dozen” list because it is misleading to consumers, is not peer-reviewed and is not based on real risk.  The conventional and organic fruit and vegetable farmers we represent produce a very safe product that experts around the world agree we should all be eating more of for better health.  In addition, the USDA, FDA and EPA all clearly state that residues do not pose a food safety concern.

For these reasons, along with EWG’s new and strong acknowledgement of the health and safety of conventional produce, the AFF renews its call for your organization to end your annual release of the “dirty dozen” list.

While there is still much information to come with respect to the validity and credibility of your new “Food Scores” report, we are pleased to see that, for produce, this new report supports decades of nutritional studies showing the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables – regardless of whether they are organic or conventional. We are sure you would agree that it is illogical for your organization to urge consumers to eat more conventional produce while simultaneously mislabeling these safe and healthy foods “dirty,” “toxic laden,” and “contaminated” among other things.

Therefore we ask you to stop unfairly disparaging conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with your annual “dirty dozen” list release.  Instead, please continue on the positive path you’ve established with your new statement urging increased consumption. That is the right message for consumers and also meets your organization’s stated objective to “empower people to live healthier lives.”

We look forward to hearing from you regarding your future intentions for the so-called “dirty dozen” list.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director, Alliance for Food and Farming

 

Here is the Scott Faber, EWG’s Vice President of Government Affairs’s response to AFF TODAY in its entirety:

Food industry lobbyists are none too pleased with EWG’s new scoring system for foods, accusing EWG’s Food Scores of:

         “Misinformation”

EWG

         “Void of scientific rigor”

         “Inaccurate and misleading information”

         “Extreme and scientifically unfounded views”

Seems like we hit a nerve.

Apparently, helping consumers identify those foods with too much fat, sugar and salt  — as well as foods with unregulated food chemicals or too much mercury – is giving Big Food’s hired guns indigestion.

Of course, food manufacturers don’t like scoring systems like NuVal or Guiding Stars, so it’s no surprise they are already attacking Food Scores.

Could it be that so many packaged foods score poorly?

Here’s what we found: far too many packaged foods have too much sugar, salt and fat and many foods contain chemicals or other ingredients of concern.  Overall, 25 percent of the 80,000 products we reviewed received and 8, 9 or 10. (For EWG, less is more: the best foods score a 1, while the worst foods score a 10.)  

Big Food’s lobbyists contend that we relied upon “isolated studies” to include added sugars and some low-calorie sweeteners in our scores. By “isolated studies,” they mean peer-reviewed research by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.

Big Food’s lobbyists also claim that we used “online sources” to address the risks posed by arsenic and other food contaminants. By  “online sources,” they mean the Food and Drug Administration.

In fact, our scoring system is based upon hundreds of studies conducted by leading experts, including those at the World Health Organization. And, unlike industry-funded studies of food chemicals, the studies that served as our references are available for everyone to see.

Big Food’s lobbyists are especially peeved that EWG recognized that organic foods score better than conventional foods.

Well, duh. Unlike so-called “natural” foods peddled by food giants, certified organic foods cannot be produced with toxic pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has even stricter rules when it comes to what can go into “flavors.”  Nor can organic food use genetically engineered ingredients, though GE content doesn’t factor into our scoring system.

Even fruit and vegetable lobbyists took time to bash EWG’s new food scoring tool.  Top scores for actual fruits and vegetables weren’t enough for the Alliance for Food and Farming, a trade association that represents conventional produce growers, which accused EWG of making “disparaging, inaccurate safety claims” in our Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. This is the same group that blamed EWG for scaring people away from healthy food and spent $180,000 of your tax dollars erroneously claiming the Shopper’s Guide discourages people from eating their fruits and veggies.

As regular users of the Shopper’s Guide know, EWG’s  top shelf advice is to eat your fruits and veggies. But, as EWG’s research shows, not all veggies are the same, and some have more pesticide residues than others. That’s why we will ignore the call to discontinue publishing our Shopper’s Guide.

It seems that some food and farm lobbyists can’t handle the food truth.

LessIsMore

[1]AFF, a non-profit organization comprised of approximately 50 agriculture associations, commodity groups and individual growers/shippers who represent farms of all sizes and includes conventional and organic production, works to provide a voice for farmers to communicate their commitment to food safety and land stewardship. Through outreach to the media and consumers, the Alliance provides information and scientific analyses on many food safety subjects, including foodborne illness and pesticide use, among others. “The Alliance for Food and Fiber has worked hard to debunk the dirty dozen list with good scientific evidence that even though produce may have crop protection product residues on a small percentage of the total volume of produce, the residue is far less than FDA standards.”

[2]The Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org/about-us, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment, aims to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment by driving consumer choice and civic action with:

  • game-changing investigations, research and debate on toxics and environmental health, food and agriculture, and water and energy
  • a team of scientists, policy experts, lawyers, communication experts and programmers who stand up for public health when government or industry won’t.

Alliance for Food and Farming: EWG Unfairly Targets Apples and Needlessly Scares Consumers

Watsonville, CA — A non-profit group representing farmers of conventional and organic fruits and vegetables is urging caution concerning claims made today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

According to the Alliance for Food and Farming, the EWG is making an attempt to reinvigorate waning media interest in its upcoming Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce,  by making inflammatory claims about the safety of apples, a favorite fruit of Americans and, in particular, children.

“EWG is once again scaring consumers about an extremely safe and healthy product that parents should be feeding their children more of for good health,” said Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  “The Alliance is disappointed apples are once again being unfairly targeted by an activist group, which is distorting the facts.  We are urging reporters to use caution and that they contact reputable scientists, government agencies and nutritionists for more information before jeopardizing the livelihoods of family farmers and needlessly scaring consumers.”

The Alliance notes the EWG claims concern a compound, known as DPA, applied to apples following harvest to prevent them scalding during cold storage.  Monitoring of this compound is regularly conducted as part of the United States Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program (PDP) and it has been found to be well below tolerance levels. More than 60 countries and the World Health Organization have found this compound to be safe when used according to stringent regulations governing all uses of pesticides by U.S. farmers.

Dr. Carl Winter, a toxicologist with the University of California, Davis, states that DPA residues specifically have been shown to be 208 times lower than the US. Environmental Protection Agency’s reference dose.

It should be noted, however, that fresh apples were not included in this year’s PDP report, although they have been tested through this program many times before.  Data from this government report is used by EWG to develop its so-called dirty dozen list, but they may be using old data to make these most recent claims about apples.

“The United States Department of Food and Agriculture and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have stated residues do not pose a food safety concern,” said Dolan. “Residues of DPA, or any other pesticide, that may be found on apples are consistently extremely low according to decades of monitoring by government agencies.   The residues are so low, in fact, that an independent toxicological report finds that a small child could eat 154 servings of apples every day without any impact from any residues that might be present.”

The Alliance for Food and Farming has developed a website working with experts in toxicology, nutrition, risk assessment and farming where people can learn more about the regulations in place to ensure the safety of fruits and vegetables at www.safefruitsandveggies.com.

Dolan urged consumers to use its pesticide residue calculator to learn more about residues on their favorite fruits and vegetables and she emphasized that health experts around the world agree, and even the EWG has stated, that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables far outweighs any risks from residues that may be present.

She also emphasizes that decades of research backs up the clear health benefits associated with eating conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.  A series of reports on these health benefits can be found on the Safe Fruits and Veggies website.

The Alliance for Food and Farming has been preparing for the annual release of the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which is scheduled for release next week. The Alliance has been successful in recent years in shedding more light on the topic of pesticide residues by giving consumers and media more information about the safety of conventional and organic fruits and vegetables. As a result of this work, consumers now have a science-based resource for information, unlike the EWG Shoppers Guide, which is not based on peer-reviewed science.