Safe Produce Calculator

What is the purpose of the calculator?
Farmers who grow fruits and vegetables and feed them to their own families, want to be sure their products are safe. To demonstrate just how safe it is to eat any fruit or vegetable, even if a pesticide residue is present, we reached out to an experienced toxicologist to provide us with information on how much of 19 produce items a man, a woman or a child could eat and still not consume enough pesticide residues to reach a level where any effect could be observed. The calculator is meant to put the issue of pesticide residues in perspective by showing how small the residues found on fruits and vegetables actually are.
Who provided the scientific analysis used in developing this tool?
The analysis was conducted by Dr. Robert Krieger, director of the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. The Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit organization representing both conventional and organic farmers, provides unrestricted financial assistance to support human chemical exposure and risk communication studies conducted by Dr. Krieger through the Riverside program.

Dr. Krieger is an educator and a Fellow in The Academy of Toxicological Sciences who maintains an active research program concerning the fate of chemicals, particularly pesticides, in plants, animals and people. He holds a BS in chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University (1967) and a Ph. D from Cornell University (1970) where he studied pesticide science, biochemistry, and physiology.

A full copy of Dr. Krieger's report can be found at this link A report further examining this concept is being reviewed for consideration for publication in a scientific journal.
What is the size of the "servings" mentioned in this report?
Serving sizes are based on two reports published by the United States Department of Food and Agriculture. The reports are titled Foods Commonly Eaten in the U.S. and USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Serving sizes vary by product and are adjusted for specific age ranges of consumers.
What is meant by "the highest pesticide residue recorded by the USDA"?
Dr. Krieger examined data from the United States Department of Agriculture's Pesticide Data Program for 19 produce items. For purposes of creating a "worst case scenario," Dr. Krieger calculated the numbers in his report using the highest pesticide residue found on each of these 19 produce items tested through the USDA's Pesticide Data Program between the years of 2008 and 2014.

The USDA's Pesticide Data Program has been in existence for nearly twenty years and is designed to continually monitor pesticide residues on food to ensure they are safe to eat by any age group — especially children -- over a long period of time.
What exactly is the calculation used on your website to determine risk from pesticides?
In his analysis, Dr. Krieger uses a calculation involving: the "No Observed Adverse Effect Level" as established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the pesticide in question; the average body weight for each consumer group; the amount of pesticide measured by the USDA Pesticide Data program; and the serving size of the produce item adjusted for the age and size of the consumer.

The full report which explains the exact calculation can be found at: this link

According to an expert panel commissioned by the Alliance for Food and Farming to examine the science behind the so-called "dirty" lists reported in the media, these kinds of lists are based on the finding of a residue without regard for how much residue is present, nor do they take into consideration available information on the toxicity of the pesticide. When assessing risk, it is important to include both how much pesticide residue is present and whether or not it has a harmful effect
What is meant by "no effect?"
For every product there is a point, or a dose level, that will not produce a response in a living organism. In the world of pesticide regulation, that point is called the No Observed Adverse Effect Level.

In his report, Dr. Krieger cites the International Programme on Chemical Safety which defines an adverse effect as "a change in morphology, physiology, growth, development, or lifespan of an organism which results in impairment of functional capacity to compensate for additional stress or increase in susceptibility to the harmful influences of other environmental influences."
While your report lists the number of servings that can be eaten in one day, what about the effect of eating produce every day for a long period of time?
First of all, it is important to note that it may not be safe to eat the large amounts of produce referenced in this calculating exercise for many reasons other than the effect from pesticide residue.

The estimates of consumption used in the calculator are based on well-designed animal studies performed during rigorous pesticide safety evaluations and use scientific models to project observations from animal studies on humans.

It is important to know that extensive testing is done on pesticides to determine safety tolerances established by the EPA. These tests take into account acute and long-term exposure; aggregate risk from other sources; cumulative risks from other pesticides; and include additional safety factors to protect children, infants and fetuses.

It should also be noted that the USDA's Pesticide Data Program consistently shows over 98 percent of the fruits and vegetables monitored do not exceed safety limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and, in most cases, the residues found are only a fraction of the allowable safety limits.
Even if the pesticide residues on produce are very small, why would I choose to eat produce that has any pesticides at all when I can buy organic?
Consumers should know that it is safe to eat fruits and vegetables whether they are conventionally or organically grown and health experts encourage increased consumption of all produce for good health. Toxicologists around the world agree that the mere presence of pesticide residues does not mean they pose a health risk. They also tell us that pesticide residues are currently measured by the USDA in "parts per million" or "parts per billion" and technology is continually advancing to measure pesticides in even smaller amounts -- to the point where there is no such thing as zero.

If consumers are still concerned, the Federal Food and Drug Administration states that residues, if present at all, can be reduced or even eliminated by washing under running tap water.