The latest data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program shows that overall pesticide levels on fresh produce and other food tested are below federal tolerance levels and don’t pose a safety concern to consumers.
The USDA’s report disclosing data from the 2012 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, showed that 99% of the products sampled had residues below the Environmental Protection Agency tolerances, according to a news release about the summary. Residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.53% of the samples tested, according to the release.
The USDA also published “What consumers should know: 2012 Pesticide Data Program Summary” explaining the context of the results.
Fresh and fruits and vegetables tested in 2012 were: avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, papayas, plums, snap peas, summer squash, sweet bell peppers, tangerines and winter squash, according to the USDA. Domestic fruits and vegetables represented 60.7% of samples, with 36.6% imported and 2.7% of mixed or unknown origin.
“The Pesticide Data Program provides reliable data through rigorous sampling that helps assure consumers that the produce they feed their families is safe,” according to the USDA’s release.
The USDA has published an annual summary of the program since the early 1990s.
The results again show the safety of all fruits and vegetable, according to a news release from Watsonville, Calif.-based Alliance for Food and Farming. Consumers can eat more of conventional and organic fruits and vegetables with confidence, according to the release.
Marketers have expressed concerns that activist groups’ reactions to the annual pesticide report — notably the “Dirty Dozen” list published by the Environmental Working Group — create fear about eating produce.
In 2010, the Alliance for Food and Farming began an effort to give consumers science-based information about the safety of fruits and vegetables.
“A key piece of information on this website is an Expert Panel Report conducted by five scientists who reviewed claims made by activist groups about the safety of fruits and vegetables with respect to pesticide residues,” Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the alliance, said in the release. “This panel of scientists was clear that the food safety systems imposed by the government are health protective for all consumers, including infants, children and pregnant women.”
Copies of the USDA summary for 2012 can be request at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (703) 330-2300, ext. 110. Information on EPA pesticide residue tolerances is available online.