Facts, Not Fears

Facts, Not Fears Reassuring Consumers About the Safety of Produce

New research from two respected academic institutions (Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Center for Nutrition Research) conclude that negative or confusing safety messaging regarding pesticide residues may discourage consumption of fruits and vegetables.

With only 1 in 10 Americans eating enough produce each day - in spite of decades of nutritional studies showing that a plant-rich diet prevents disease - safety fears can become a barrier to healthy eating. Allowing misinformation about produce safety to stand unchallenged undermines public health initiatives that encourage healthy eating as well as efforts to improve the lives of Americans.

Concerned with the potential impact of negative and confusing messaging, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) sought input from consumers to learn what information would help them in making fact-based decisions about the food they eat and serve their families. In a series of research projects undertaken in 2016, information from national health experts, toxicologists and government agencies was shared with consumers. After reviewing factual information from credible sources, consumer confidence increased significantly over baseline levels, with 87% of consumers stating they had a favorable opinion of organic produce and 80% stating they had a favorable opinion of conventionally grown. The research results showed that the information presented to consumers made a positive difference in their perception of the safety of all produce and helped alleviate fear as a potential barrier to consumption.

Through the Facts, Not Fears web pages, the AFF strives to provide the kind of science and information that removes fear as a barrier to consumption. In so doing, the AFF hopes to help consumers make decisions that will positively influence their health and the health of their families through increases in the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables.


Learn more about the Johns Hopkins research published in the journal Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment and IIT’s research published in Nutrition Today to see how confusing, negative and often inaccurate safety information is impacting low income consumers.

Read media articles on how produce safety fears may be impacting consumers from the Washington Post, U.S. News and World Report and Business Insider.

(Coming Soon!) Watch videos featuring Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman, lead author of the paper published in Nutrition Today, Director of the IIT’s Institute for Food Safety and Health and Associate Professor of Nutrition