Posts Tagged “Consumer Reports”
Watsonville, CA – The Consumers Union has released yet another produce “shoppers’ guide” list that can only contribute to increased consumer confusion about healthy dietary choices.
he 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 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%.
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.
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.
In Consumer Reports’ new supermarket survey, Wegmans, Publix and Trader Joe’s remain at the top of the ratings of 68 of stores nationwide. Also earning high overall satisfaction scores were Fareway Stores, Market Basket (Northeast), Costco and Raley’s. Once again Walmart Supercenter landed at the bottom, along with A&P and Waldbaums, two smaller regional chains.
“Once upon a time, low prices, checkout speed and variety were attributes that mattered most to supermarket shoppers,” Tod Marks, senior project editor at Consumer Reports, said in a press release. “While these aspects are still critical, more and more consumers demand better fresh foods, more organics and a greater variety of locally made and grown foods.”
Many Americans believe that good health starts with a good diet. As a result, consumers have become increasingly savvy label readers, wary of preservatives, chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients and the demand for minimally processed foods and shorter ingredients lists has risen significantly. And supermarkets are taking seriously their new role in the health of their customers. Consumer Reports found that 95 percent of chains have a registered dietician on staff to assist with merchandising and marketing decisions. And, more than 75 percent of stores say they carry more locally grown or made goods than they did in 2012.
The report, “America’s Best, Freshest Supermarkets,” which includes the complete Ratings of grocery stores, is available in the May 2015 issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org. The feature also decodes common terms such as “fresh,” “natural” and more.
Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed 62,917 subscribers about overall satisfaction with their supermarket shopping experiences based on 111,208 visits between March 2013 and July 2014. The top-rated supermarkets also received high scores for overall freshness — quality of produce, meats, poultry, bakery items and store-prepared foods as well as store quality, which included scores for staff courtesy and store cleanliness. Walmart Supercenter, consistently one of Consumer Reports’ lowest-rated grocers since 2005, earned low marks in every category other than price.
In addition to traditional characteristics such as service and cleanliness, Consumer Reports asked subscribers to rate their grocers on the selection of local produce and the price of organics at their stores. Only around six in 10 were completely or very satisfied with the quality of their store’s produce, meat, and poultry offerings, according to Consumer Reports’ survey.
Just three of the chains — Wegmans and national chains The Fresh Market and Whole Foods — earned stellar produce scores. Seventeen were below average. Eighteen retailers received low scores for produce variety, notably two big warehouse clubs — Sam’s Club (part of Walmart) and BJ’s Wholesale Club (in the East) — as well as Target and Target Supercenters.
Consumer Reports also asked subscribers about the prices of organic options available at their stores: Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, Costco, and Sprouts Farmers Market received high marks. And, to determine the real-world price differences, Consumer Reports conducted a study by shopping for 15 similar organic and conventional goods, including bananas, milk, and chicken, at eight national, regional and online grocers. The organic items cost 47 percent more, on average, although in some cases, some of the organic versions cost the same or less than the conventional ones. For example, organic Grade A maple syrup cost 11 percent less than the conventional version at Price Chopper.