FDA says pesticide residue violations few

Industry compliance is not perfect, but a new Food and Drug Administration report says 98% of domestic and 90% of imported foods tested in fiscal year 2015 met federal pesticide residue limits.

The 47-page report, available online, examined pesticide residues in domestic and imported food tested between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015.

The FDA report said that 18.3% of fruits and 38% of vegetables showed no detectable pesticide residues. The report said that 2.2% of fruit samples and 3.8% of vegetable samples contained violative residues.

The FDA found that 9.4% of the imported fruit samples were violative, compared with only 2.2% for domestic fruit samples. For vegetables, the report said 9.7% of imported vegetables were violative, compared with 3.8% for domestic vegetables tested.

“FDA reports that in fiscal year 2015 the levels of pesticide chemical residues in or on food generally remained well below established federal tolerances, or EPA limits,” the FDA said in a news release.

The agency said no pesticide chemical residues were found in 49.8% of the domestic and 56.8% of imported food samples.

The report found pesticide chemical residues in violation of federal tolerances (residue levels above the tolerance or residues for which no tolerance has been established) in less than 2% (15 out of 835) of domestic samples and less than 10% (444 out of 4737) of import samples.

Because the violation rates of import samples are generally higher than for domestic samples, the FDA tests more imported commodities than domestic, with 4,737 import samples and 835 domestic samples tested.

The FDA said it tested food samples from 111 countries, 39 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. Territories.

The FDA listed a table of imported commodities that the agency said may warrant “special attention” in future tests. That group of commodities had at least 20 samples analyzed or with a minimum of 3 violations, and had a violation rate of 10% or higher.

Imported fruit and vegetable items on that list included:

  • Cabbage: 15 samples analyzed, violation rate of 26.7%;
  • Cilantro: 22 samples analyzed, violation rate of 27.3%;
  • Mushroom: 86 samples analyzed, violation rate of 26.7%;
  • Nectarine fruit/juice: 47 samples analyzed, violation rate of 10.6%;
  • Parsley: 18 samples analyzed, violation rate of 22.2%;
  • Peas: 68 samples analyzed, violation rate of 13.2%;
  • Peppers, hot: 293 samples analyzed, violation rate of 10.9%;
  • Pineapple fruit/juice: 39 samples analyzed, violation rate of 15.4%;
  • Radish: 21 samples analyzed, violation rate of 19.1%;
  • Rambutan: 14 samples analyzed, violation rate of 21.4%;
  • Scallions and shallots: 21 samples analyzed, violation rate of 19.1%;
  • Squash (Mexico): 73 samples analyzed, violation rate of 15.1%; and 
  • Strawberries fruit/juice: 89 samples analyzed, violation rate of 15.7%.
 

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