More than 99% of samples tested in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program had residue levels well below levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The USDA published the 203-page 2017 annual summary on Dec. 17 and said 53% of samples had no detectable pesticide residue.
“This report shows that when pesticide residues are found on foods, they are nearly always at levels below the tolerances set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” the report said.
USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis, according to a news release.
In 2017, sampling and/or testing program operations were carried out with the support of 10 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
For more than 25 years, the release said AMS works with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels on fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products and water.
The summary said fresh and processed fruit and vegetables accounted for 83.1% of the total 10,541 samples collected in 2017.
Fresh and processed fruit and vegetables tested during 2017 included applesauce, asparagus, cabbage, cranberries (fresh and frozen), cucumbers, garbanzo beans (canned), grapefruit, kale, lettuce, mangoes, olives (canned), onions, pineapple (canned), plums (dried/prunes), snap peas, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes (canned). Domestic samples accounted for 72.4% of the samples, while 26% were imports, 1.1% were of mixed national origin, and 0.5% were of unknown origin.
The agency tests both domestic and imported foods, looking closely at foods consumed by infants and children.
The release said the EPA relies on PDP data to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at levels that EPA has determined to be safe.
USDA, according to the release, uses the data to help U.S. farmers improve agricultural practice and to enhance the department’s Integrated Pest Management Program.
The annual pesticide residue results are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and EPA in monthly reports as testing takes place throughout the year, according to the release, with FDA and EPA immediately notified if a PDP test discovers residue levels that could pose a public safety risk.
The report said pesticides exceeding the tolerance were detected in 58 samples including 5 samples of asparagus, 1 sample of fresh cranberries, 9 samples of cucumbers, 24 samples of kale, 2 samples of onions, 16 samples of snap peas, and 1 sample of sweet potatoes. Of those 58 samples, 32 were reported as imported produce.