Statement in Response to Consumer Reports "Shoppers Guide"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:  Marilyn Dolan or Teresa Thorne

(831) 786-1666

 

(Watsonville, CA) Today, the Consumers Union released yet another produce “shoppers’ guide” list that can only contribute to increased consumer confusion about healthy dietary choices.  The article in Consumer Reports categorizes certain produce items that have been proven very safe as “high risk.” This categorization comes despite the Consumers Union’s own admission that half of the produce sampled by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had no detectable residues at all.  If residues were detected, the majority came in at levels well below Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerances (99.8%).   Further, both USDA and EPA state that “residues do not pose a food safety concern.”

“For all of us involved in promoting better consumer health, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables is among our main objectives.  The benefits of consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables is absolutely indisputable. Consumers should eat both organic and conventionally grown produce without worrying about minute levels of pesticide residues,” says Dr. Carl Keen, Professor of Nutrition and Internal Medicine at University of California, Davis.

“Despite the best efforts of the government, health experts and nutritionists, consumption of fruits and veggies has stagnated.  Telling consumers one moment that certain produce items are ‘high risk’ and the very next advising them to ‘eat more’ is confusing and cannot be helpful with efforts to increase consumption for improved health,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  

Most recently, a peer reviewed study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of premature death by 42%, heart disease by 31% and cancer by 25%. Another peer reviewed study in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology showed that if half of Americans increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year.  Dr. Keen was among the lead authors of this study.

“These studies only reinforce decades of nutritional research that show increased consumption of fruits and vegetables leads to better health and a longer life and those studies were largely conducted using conventionally grown produce,” Dolan says. 

Recently, a new peer reviewed study conducted by the John Hopkins Center for a Livable Future found that conflicting messaging on food safety and nutrition may be having a detrimental impact on the dietary choices of consumers, especially those with lower incomes.  Researchers involved in the study recommended that “those who want to improve food production techniques and those who want to improve nutrition cooperate to create consistent messaging about healthy eating for the benefit of consumers.”

“The science is clear that the best advice for consumers is also the simplest – eat more conventional and organic produce for better health,” Dolan says.  “And, if you are concerned about residues, wash your produce as recommended by the Partnership for Food Safety Education and the Federal Food and Drug Administration which states that washing can remove or eliminate any residues if they are present at all.”

Visit www.safefruitsandveggies.com to learn more about the safety of organic and conventional produce.

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The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of fruits and vegetables. The Alliance does not engage in any lobbying activities, nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.