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USDA Report Confirms that Pesticide Residues Do Not Pose a Food Safety Issue

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USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service recently released its 2010 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary. The purpose of the report is to provide the complete results of a nationwide testing program of processed and fresh fruits and vegetables, grain, and other agricultural products.

In 2010, USDA collected 10,974 samples of domestic and imported fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, and each sample was analyzed for the potential presence of residues from about 200 conventional and organic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and other crop protection materials. The sophisticated laboratory equipment used to evaluate the samples can detect minute amounts of chemicals, parts per million or less.

Of those samples, 99.75 percent were found to have residue levels below the strict U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tolerances. These results are consistent with previous USDA annual reports, as pesticide residues rarely exceed the safety levels mandated by EPA. USDA stressed in the report the importance of fruits and vegetables as a part of a healthy diet.

EPA issued a response to the USDA report, indicating that the rigorous scientific process for reviewing and approving materials and the pest control techniques employed by growers are successful in helping to ensure a safe food supply.

To obtain more information about the report, consult the USDA website ( and select the Science and Laboratories option, then select the Pesticide Data Program site.


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