Curious of How Safe is Fresh Produce?

Residue Calculator Helps Public Understand How Safe Food Is

News Release

Recently, we have shared new government residue sampling results from the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).  These programs consistently show that 99% of the foods sampled had no detectable residues at all or residues found were well below safety levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For those who do not want to review these lengthy government reports, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) created an easy-to-use “residue calculator” on safefruitsandveggies.com, which is based upon the USDA data.  We asked toxicologists with the University of California Personal Chemical Exposure Program to analyze this data.  Their findings: A child 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.  This analysis shows how very minute residues are, if present at all.

The residue calculator features 19 of the most popular fruits and veggies, and you can click on a man, woman, teenager, or child to see the number of servings one would have to consume.  For example, a child could eat 181 servings or 1,448 strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from residues.  Apples?  A child could eat 340 apples in a day.  Kale?  7,446 servings!

These government reports and the UC toxicological analysis underscore the diligence of fruit and vegetable farmers when it comes to the judicious use of pesticides approved for organic and conventional crops.

“… Growers and farmers are adept at following our comprehensive rules to ensure produce is grown to the highest pesticide standards,” said Brian Leahy, Director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.

“Based on the PDP data, consumers can feel confident about eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables,” concludes the USDA report.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic or conventional fruits and veggies for better health and longer life.

2017 Produce Samples Survey Show Safeness For Consumers

Tests Show Low or No Pesticide Levels in Most Fruits and Vegetables in California

By Charlotte Fadipe, California DPR

Once again, tests showed that the vast majority of fresh produce collected by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) met national pesticide residue standards. During its 2017 survey, DPR found 96 percent of all samples had no detectable pesticide residues or were below levels allowed by the U.S. EPA.

The findings are included in DPR’s just released 2017 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Produce report.

“DPR carries out an extensive sampling of pesticides on fresh produce, and once again it shows that California consumers can be confident about eating fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Brian Leahy, Director of DPR. “California growers and farmers are adept at following our comprehensive rules to ensure produce is grown to the highest pesticide standards.”

Brian Leahy

The 2017 report is based on a year-round collection of 3,695 samples of produce from 28 different countries, including those labeled as “organic.” DPR scientists sampled produce from various grocery stores, farmers’ markets, food distribution centers, and other outlets throughout California. The produce is tested for more than 400 types of pesticides using state-of-the-art equipment operated by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) sets levels for the maximum amounts of pesticide residue that can be present on fruits and vegetables, called a “tolerance.” It is a violation if any residue exceeds the tolerance for the specific fruit or vegetable, or if a pesticide is detected for which no tolerance has been established.

California Specific Results

More than a third of the country’s fruits and vegetables are grown in California, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). In 2017 DPR found:

-About 25 percent of all produce samples tested were labeled as Californian-grown,

-About 95 percent of these samples had no residues on them or were within the legal levels,

-About 5 percent of California samples had illegal residues, including kale and snow peas. These are pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity. However, none of those residues were at a level that would pose a health risk to consumers.

Other highlights from the 2017 report include:

-41 percent of all produce samples had no detectable residues at all,

-55 percent had residues detected within the legal level.

-4 percent of all the samples had pesticide residues in excess of the established tolerance or had illegal traces of pesticides that were not approved for that commodity.

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.