December 17, 2019

Over 99% of food products tested for pesticides had levels below EPA tolerances

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) initiated the Pesticide Data Program (PDP) in 1991 to collect data on pesticide residues in food.

The program now has a key role in the implementation of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA).

The law directs the Secretary of Agriculture to collect pesticide residue data on commodities most frequently consumed by infants and children. EPA establishes the tolerances after developing a risk assessment that considers the following:

  • The pesticide exposure through diet and drinking water and from uses in and around the home.
  • The cumulative exposure to two or more pesticides that cause a common toxic effect; the possibility of increased susceptibility to infants and children or other sensitive populations from exposure to the pesticide.
  • The possibility that the pesticide produces an effect in people similar to an effect produced by a naturally occurring estrogen or produces other endocrine disruptions.

Fresh/processed fruit and vegetables

Over 99% of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances.

Fresh and processed fruit and vegetables accounted for 87.8% of the total 10,545 samples collected in 2018. Other samples collected included rice (1.8%), wheat flour (7.2%) and heavy cream (3.2%). In 2018, the program analyzed 9,257 fruit and vegetable samples, of which 4,949 were fresh products and 4,308 were processed products.

Fresh and processed fruit and vegetables tested during 2018 were: asparagus, cabbage, cilantro, cranberries (canned and frozen), garbanzo beans (canned), green onions, kale, kiwis, mangoes, olives (canned), peaches (canned), plums (dried/prunes), raisins, snap peas, spinach (frozen), strawberries (frozen), sweet peas (frozen) and sweet potatoes.

Domestic samples accounted for 66.2% of the samples, while 32.1% were imports, 1.3% were of mixed national origin, and 0.4% were of unknown origin.

Click here for the full report.