“We’re calling on (EWG) to stop publishing the lists, unless they can show their language is not discouraging consumption,” Dolan said.
Dismissing that suggestion, Alex Formuzis, vice president of media relations for the Environmental Working Group, Washington, D.C., said it consumers pick Doritos over fruits and vegetables, it is not because of pesticides. “It’s because that is what they want to eat,” he said. Formuzis said the group was “100% certain” that any decline in fresh produce consumption is not attributable to the EWG Shoppers Guide. For consumers want to reduce their consumption of pesticides, Formuzis called the lists a “useful tool.”
Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation, said the EWG reports could cause consumers to choose a food like a hot dog instead of healthy fruits and vegetables.
“It is an irresponsible thing to have headlines like this and not give a balanced report to this kind of information,” she said.The “Scared Fat” report features research conducted in April by the research firm Charlton Research Co, using an Internet poll of 800 adults.
The study found that in a first ballot, 53% of consumers surveyed indicated they were very concerned about the safety of fresh produce. Thirty six percent of those polled said “free from chemical residues” is an important factor in fruit and vegetable purchases, trailing only “safety from contamination of food borne illnesses” (39%) and “cost of the product” (38%) in significance those surveyed.
After being presented in the survey with four negative messages about fruits and vegetable safety — one relating to pesticide residues and others relating to genetic engineering of food — consumers polled showed elevated levels of concern about food safety. The survey then found that 10% more consumers — rising from 53% to 63% — said they were concerned about fresh produce safety. Meanwhile, the percentage of those polled who were “not at all concerned” about fruit and vegetable safety shrunk by 5%, from 15% to 10%.