Posts Tagged “Dirty Dozen”

Reports: Organic and Conventional Produce is Safe, “Dirty Dozen” List Unsupportable

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A11aby The Alliance for Food and Farming

Watsonville, CA – According to the USDA and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sampling data, 99 percent of residues on fruits and vegetables, when present at all, are well below safety levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

FDA sampling shows that 50 percent of the foods sampled had no detectable residues at all.    “In light of today’s “dirty dozen” list release, both government reports are good news for consumers and show that the “list” author’s contentions about residues and “dirty” produce are unfounded, unsupportable and, in fact,  may be harming public health efforts to improve the diets of Americans,” says Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.

Thorne says peer reviewed research published in Nutrition Today shows that inaccurate statements regarding “high” residues associated with the annual “dirty dozen” release resulted in low income consumers stating they would be less likely to purchase any produce – organic or conventionally grown.   “For over two decades the authors of this list have inaccurately disparaged healthy and safe fruits and veggies to the detriment of consumers,” Thorne says.  “Since a farmer’s first consumer is his or her own family, providing safe and wholesome food is always their priority.  Consumers should be reassured by the farmers’ commitment to food safety and government reports that verify that safety year after year.”   Among the additional USDA/FDA findings:

  • Pesticide residues pose no risk of concern for infants and children.
  • The results provide consumers confidence that the products they buy for their families are safe and wholesome.

Further, a peer reviewed study found that EWG’s suggested substitution of organic forms of produce for conventional forms did not result in any decrease in risk because residues on conventional produce are so minute, if present at all. The same study states that EWG did not follow any established scientific procedures in developing their list. There are decades of peer-reviewed nutrition studies which show the benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies on health, Thorne explains.

These studies were largely conducted using conventionally grown produce. Thorne adds that health experts universally agree that a plant rich diet is important for everyone, but especially for children, pregnant women or those wishing to become pregnant.  “What I tell women routinely is all the data suggests you want to increase your intake (of fruits and vegetables) during pregnancy and for that matter before you even become pregnant to help optimize your chance of having a healthy child,” says Dr. Carl Keen,

Professor of Nutrition at the University of California, Davis whose research focuses on the influence of  the maternal diet on the risk for pregnancy complications. For those struggling with infertility, A 2018 study in human reproduction found females under 35 undergoing in vitro fertilization had a 65 to 68 percemt increased chance of success with a stronger adherence to the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes eating lots of fruits and veggies each day.

Further illustrating how low pesticide residues are, if present at all, an analysis by a toxicologist with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program found that a child could literally eat hundreds to thousands of servings of a fruit or vegetable in a day and still not have any effects from pesticide residues.  “For strawberries, a child could eat 181 servings or 1,448 strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from pesticide residues,” Thorne says.   For consumers who may still have concerns, they should simply wash their fruits and vegetables.  According to the FDA, you can reduce and often eliminate residues, if they are present at all, on fresh fruits and vegetables simply by washing.   To learn more about the safety of all fruits and vegetables (Twitter and Facebook).

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 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.

A gift from the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) to the Illinois Institute of Technology, Center for Nutrition Research helped fund the research published in the peer review journal, Nutrition Today. However, the AFF was uninvolved in any facet of the study nor were we made aware of the study findings until after the paper was peer reviewed and accepted by the journal.

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Revised Dirty Dozen List for Produce Causes Tizzy

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A Dirty Dozen list has been once again released by The Environmental Working Group, which has  prompted industry objections that the list has been discredited by scientists, is not based upon risk and has now been shown to potentially discourage consumption of organic and conventional fruits and vegetables.
“In light of new science and information about how safety fears are impacting low income consumers, it is concerning that EWG still releases a Dirty Dozen list in 2017,” Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, said in a news release.
“If EWG truly cares about public health, it will stop referring to popular produce items that kids love as “dirty” and move toward positive, science-based information that reassures consumers and promotes consumption.”
The EWG said strawberries in 2017 remain at the top of the list of the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, with spinach moving to second place, according to a news release. The list ranks of conventionally grown produce with the most pesticide residues, according to the group.
After strawberries and spinach, the 2017 Dirty Dozen list includes nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes. The group  released its first Dirty Dozen list in 1993.
“Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential no matter how they’re grown, but for the items with the heaviest pesticide loads, we urge shoppers to buy organic,” Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst, said in the release. It is especially important to reduce young children’s exposures to pesticides, she said in the release.
The group’s Clean 15 list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit, according to a news release.
Industry Fights Back
“Any report that tells people to avoid eating apples is giving harmful advice,” said Jim Bair, U.S. Apple Association president and CEO, in a statement. “Instead, we should be more concerned with increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.”
Bair said the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Dietary Guidelines for Americans all advise consumers to eat more fruit.
The industry-backed Alliance for Food and Farming said it has requested reporters view the Dirty Dozen list in the context of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Report, the report that EWG uses to help create its list.
“This report shows that when pesticide residues are found on foods, they are nearly always at levels below the tolerances set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” the USDA said in its 2015 annual report. Over 99% of the products sampled through PDP had residues below the EPA tolerances, according to the report.
The alliance said an analysis by a toxicologist with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program concluded that a child could eat excessive quantities of fruits and vegetables and suffer no effects from pesticide residues. For strawberries, a child could eat 181 servings or 1,448 strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from pesticide residues, Thorne said in the release.

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