Year After Year USDA Program Verifies Produce Safety12/7/2016 9:36 AM
For 25 years, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program results have shown an exceptionally high level of compliance by farmers of fruits and vegetables to U.S. pesticide laws and regulations, which are among the most stringent in the world. The 2015 results once again showed that 99% of produce sampled had residue levels, if present, well below EPA tolerances.
The report further states: “The PDP summary shows that, overall, pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose risk to consumers’ health. Based on the PDP data and on EPA's assessment, the small amount of pesticides found in a few of the samples present no health risk. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded that pesticide residues pose no risk of concern for infants and children.
Despite the annual positive government sampling results and the overwhelming science showing the safety of our fruits and vegetables, the message many consumers continue to receive is that they should avoid certain produce items because of “high levels” of pesticide residues. This inaccurate messaging is often carried by activist groups to promote certain production methods over another. With the Centers for Disease Control reporting that only 1 in 10 Americans eat adequate amounts of fruits and veggies each day, safety fears raised by activists should not become another barrier to produce consumption.
But that may be exactly what is happening. There are now peer-reviewed studies that show this inaccurate messaging designed to raise produce safety fears could be having a negative impact on consumption. Specifically, a paper published in Nutrition Today showed that inaccurate claims about fruits and vegetables having “higher” pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be unlikely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organic or conventional.
Low fruit and vegetable consumption + overwhelming science + new studies showing the negative impact of fear-based messaging on consumers should equal a realization that a positive message is required so that facts, not fears, can guide shopping choices. And the message is simple: “Eat more organic and conventional produce every day for better health and a longer life. Both are very safe and can be eaten with confidence.”
And, maybe when safety information is released, like the USDA PDP report, consumers could hear about it? Instead, year after year, media coverage of this government report release is almost non-existent, which is why so many activist groups are successful at manipulating and re-packaging its content. This is also why the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) urges reporters and bloggers to read the actual USDA PDP findings upon its release or whenever a manipulated report is distributed.
Rest assured that the AFF will continue our efforts to promote the 25 years of good news the USDA PDP report represents and spread this message: Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional fruits and veggies every day for better health and a longer life. This message is supported by decades of peer reviewed science and is good news that consumers need to hear.