Thursday, May 31, 2012

USDA Program Report indicates that pesticides on food are not a risk in US Food Supply

In a report on USDA’s monitoring program for pesticide residues in food, USDA states that pesticides do not pose a safety concern in foods. Pesticide usage is actively controlled by EPA, FDA and USDA. 

USDA Releases 2010 Annual Summary for Pesticide Data ProgramReport confirms that U.S. food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted data from the 2010 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at The 2010 PDP report confirms that food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues.

In May of 1991, USDA initiated the PDP to test commodities in the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues. Since passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), one of PDP’s focuses has been on testing foods that are most likely consumed by infants and children. AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels on selected foods. In implementing the FQPA, the EPA uses data from the PDP to enhance its programs for food safety and help evaluate dietary exposure to pesticides.

Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2010, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, oats, eggs, catfish, baby food, groundwater, and treated and untreated drinking water. Similar to previous years, the 2010 report shows that overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels well below the tolerances set by the EPA. The report does show that residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.25 percent of the samples tested. For baby food – included for the first time in this report – the data showed that no residues were found that exceeded the tolerance levels. Some residues were found with no established tolerance levels but the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.

Statement from EPA:
“The data confirms EPA’s success in phasing- out pesticides used in children’s food for safer pesticides and pest control techniques. The very small amounts of pesticide residues found in the baby food samples were well below levels that are harmful to children.”

Statement from FDA:
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration assesses whether pesticide chemical residues found on food may be unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and determines if followup is necessary under its own regulatory pesticide program. FDA is able to conduct its own tests, interpret the reported violations, and determine if additional testing is needed in order to take enforcement action, as appropriate. Based on the PDP data from this report, parents and caregivers can continue to feed infants their regular baby foods without being concerned about the possible presence of unlawful pesticide chemical residues.”

Statement from USDA:
“Age-old advice remains the same: eat more fruits and vegetables and wash them before you do so. Health and nutrition experts encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables in every meal as part of a healthy diet. This message is affirmed in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released last year, in USDA’s My Plate, as well as federal nutrition guidance that urges people to make half their plate fruits and vegetables.”

Since its inception, the program has tested 105 commodities including fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, meat and poultry, grains, catfish, rice, specialty products, and water. The data is a valuable tool for consumers, food producers and processors, chemical manufacturers, environmental interest groups, and food safety organizations. 

The findings of the Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2010 can be downloaded at Printed copies of it will be available later this year and can be obtained by writing to the Monitoring Programs Division, Science and Technology, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, 8609 Sudley Rd., Suite 206, Manassas, VA 20110; by faxing (703) 369-0678; by calling (703) 330-2300, Ext. 110; or by submitting an e-mail request to

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