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.