U.S. Produce

The U.S EPA's current process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food is rigorous and health protective. The evaluation process includes considerations for infants and children as well as adults.

EPA's testing requirements for pesticides used on food are more extensive than for chemicals used in any other category, and include testing targeted specifically to assess the potential risks to fetuses, infants and children. In addition, both USDA and FDA conduct sampling and monitoring programs to ensure that the U.S. food supply is safe.

There are also stringent standards governing the application of pesticides in the field. In California, for example, before farmers can apply most pesticides, they must comply with more than 70 laws and regulations governing their use. This system ensures that pesticides are applied only when necessary and in a safe manner.

Farmers of fruits and vegetables are also using new technologies and advanced farming practices developed by university scientists. The result? Farming practices that are safer and more environmentally sound. Produce farmers have been leaders in adopting integrated pest management systems which use a variety of biological methods combined with the judicious use of pesticides to control pests and diseases.

Most importantly, these farmers and their families live and work in the communities where they farm, so protecting the land and the environment is a priority. These farmers also feed their families what they grow. As one third generation farmer recently stated, "I actually answer to a higher authority than the regulatory community, and that's my family who are the first to eat what I grow."


Food imported into the U.S. is subject to a variety of Federal laws, administered by a number of different Federal agencies. A food safety program of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, known as Codex, plays a key role. Codex develops international food safety and quality standards, including Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) for pesticides. EPA participates actively in Codex and contributes technical expertise to the development of these international standards and related policies. A database of MRLs, or tolerances, for U.S. specialty crops is maintained by the US Department of Agriculture. This database can be searched by crop or pesticide, for the United States or for 70 foreign countries. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) samples imported and domestic foods to ensure that pesticide residues are within established tolerances or are covered by exemptions. In addition, the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, which monitors pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the U.S. food supply, includes sampling and analysis of imported fruits and vegetables.