April 25, 2018

Most California Produce Has Little Detectable Pesticide Residues

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has released a report saying that the majority of produce it tests annually has “little or no detectable pesticide residues and posed no health risk to the public.” Ninety-five percent of all California grown products sampled in 2013 was in compliance with allowable limits.¬†Each piece of produce may legally contain trace amounts of one or more pesticides. The limit of these compounds is set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

produceDPR tested 3,483 samples of different fruits and vegetables sold in farmers markets, wholesale and retail outlets, and distribution centers around the state. More than 155 different fruits and vegetables were sampled to reflect the population’s eating habits. Of all the samples collected, 43.53% had no pesticide residues detected, 51.51% had residues that were within legal tolerance levels.

But 3.99% of the samples had illegal residues of pesticides that were not approved for use on the produce tested, and 0.98% of the samples had illegal pesticide residues in excess of established tolerances. The report does point out that produce with an illegal residue level does not necessarily indicate a threat to health.

Testing has frequently detected illegal pesticide pesticide residues on Cactus Pads from Mexico, Ginger from China, Snow Peas from Guatemala, and Spinach from the United States. Still, the majority of the time these residues do not pose a health risk, with the exception of Cactus Pads from Mexico. In 2013, they were tainted with an organophosphate-based pesticide that could sicken people. An alert on this product was issued in February 2014 and it was removed from store shelves.

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