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.

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CDPR: 96% of Produce has No Residue Or Far Below EPA Levels

CDPR Releases New Residue Results

News Release

Recently, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) released its 2017 Pesticide Residues in Fresh Produce report. During its 2017 survey, CDPR found 96 percent of all samples had no detectable pesticide residues or residues were below levels allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The CDPR report complements the recently released United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Pesticide Data Program results which found 99% percent of the foods sampled had no detectable residues or residues were well below EPA tolerances. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also conducts pesticide residue sampling.  FDA results mirrored the USDA’s.

The FDA, USDA and CDPR reports all concluded that these residue results should provide consumers with confidence about the safety of eating fruits and vegetables.

All three government reports garnered very little attention. However, this is reassuring food safety information that consumers should know. Instead, they often receive inaccurate assertions about residues carried by activist groups promoting one production method over another.

The Alliance for Food and Farming supports consumer choice by providing science-based facts to help them make the right shopping decisions for themselves and their families. Whether they choose organic or conventional produce, consumers should know that when it comes to residues, both production methods yield safe produce that can be eaten with confidence.


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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.

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Pest Management is Essential

The Positives of Pest Management

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

There’s a case to be made for both organic and conventional farming, but make no mistake that they both have the same intention: safe food for human consumption. Few people know this better than Brian Leahy, chief of the Department of Pesticide Regulation in California, one of the 16 agencies under the umbrella of the California Environmental Protection Agency.

There are certain precautions that all farmers need to take to ensure our produce is of the highest quality, one of which is the use of pesticides. Leahy explained that yes, even organic growers require pesticides to protect their crop.

“They’re very different, and they go through a process,” he further added.

“When your food leaves the farm, it goes through a lot of pest management,” Leahy continued, “We’re doing it every day, so let’s acknowledge that it’s there.”

The fact is, everyone uses pesticides, whether it be in the grocery store or our very own homes, and if they are not properly managed it can lead to trouble.

“We’re all in this pest management together. Let’s start putting the resources into it so that we do it in a way we think we want,” Leahy concluded.

To find out how DPR regulates pesticide use, go here.

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Change in Policy on Fumigant Puts Farmers in Bind

Source: California Farm Bureau Federation 

New restrictions have been placed on an important crop protection tool used on more than 40 different California fruit, vegetable, tree and vine crops.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has ended a policy that allows growers in certain areas—also known as townships—to acquire necessary quantities of the soil fumigant 1,3-dichloropropene—sold under the trade name Telone—above an annual allocation cap.

The amount of Telone allowed to be used annually is based on potential exposure averaged over a 70-year span. DPR had allowed more to be used when requested, with the understanding that lesser amounts would subsequently be used so as not to exceed the averaged, 70-year limit.

The affected areas are largely in Fresno, Tulare, Merced, Monterey, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. These areas have used more than the yearly limit of 90,250 pounds set for each township, which is 36 square miles. Some 450 townships in 42 counties use 1,3-D, with about 10 townships likely to be affected by the new policy, according to DPR.

Growers of crops such as sweet potatoes, almonds, walnuts, grapes and strawberries use 1,3-D as a preplant soil fumigant to give their ground a clean start and protect their crops against nematodes and diseases that result in lower yields and quality.

Fumigants continue to face tighter regulatory restrictions, leaving growers with fewer pest management options and less-effective materials. With the international phase-out of methyl bromide, growers have increasingly turned to alternatives such as 1,3-D, and they say the latest limits on the product erode their ability to produce their crops.

“Food costs are going to go up,” said David P. Souza, a sweet potato grower in Merced County, “because the less we produce, the more it’s going to cost. Hopefully, people are ready to adjust to that.”

DPR officials said they understand that no longer granting the exemptions will present challenges for farmers. But DPR Director Brian Leahy said the department “believes in being very protective when it comes to fumigants.”

“We continuously evaluate their use,” Leahy said, noting that DPR has been reviewing 1,3-D since 2009 to assess its toxicity and risk. The department said it expects to complete the study in 18 months.

David Doll, a University of California pomology farm advisor in Merced County, said the change in DPR policy has created a real bind for almond growers who had made planting decisions based on the belief that they would be able to fumigate with Telone.

“I think it caught a lot of people by surprise,” he said. “There were a lot of farmers who were expecting (the cap) to be raised and more Telone to be released, and when it wasn’t, I was getting one call after another from farmers who said they weren’t getting any Telone and they didn’t know what to do with regard to planting their almond orchard.”

He said he’s been advising almond farmers to treat what they can with the limited Telone, if they can get it, and then consider applying chloropicrin, which he said is less effective in managing nematodes but works well against Prunus replant disease. Doll said after seeing his own trial work, he consistently recommends fumigating before replanting.

“I’ve seen the stuff work. I’ve watched orchards developed with and without fumigants,” he said, noting that fumigated trees not only produce a crop earlier, but they have higher yields and also use water and nutrients more efficiently.

“If we have an efficient-running operation, we then can trim back our nitrogen, our water and maintain same or greater production,” Doll added.

Merced County farmer Bob Weimer, who grows sweet potatoes, almonds, walnuts and peaches, said the new policy on Telone comes at an especially difficult time when growers are already struggling with dwindling water supplies due to drought.

“If we’re hindered with disease issues underground attacking the roots, then the problems become exacerbated with a shortage of water,” he said.

He said growers’ inability to control pests and diseases wastes critical resources such as water, fertilizer and labor, and undermines the sustainability of the land.

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