The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) has fined six companies that are charged with selling fruits and vegetables with illegal pesticide residues to predominantly ethnic minority customers. The fines range from $10,000 to more than $20,000.
Brian Leahy, DPR director, said in a statement, “These companies were importing and selling produce to stores that primarily cater to California’s ethnic communities. They were given ample opportunities to change their methods but chose not to do so.”
DPR inspects farmers markets, chain stores, distribution centers, and other facilities as part of its Residue Monitoring Program. Fruits and vegetables are randomly selected an tested to ensure that the pesticide levels on the produce falls within legal limits. You can see photos of the destroyed tainted produce at the CA.gov web site.
The six companies fined are Top Quality Produce, that sold lychees from China, Burdock Root from Taiwan, and Longan from Thailand with illegal pesticide residues. Yi Bao Produce Group sold tainted produce, as did Primary Export International. Marquez Produce sold cactus leaves, tomatillos, and squash imported from Mexico with high pesticide residues. La Sucursal Produce did the same, as did V&L Produce. International countries may have pesticide limits higher than the United States, but produce sold in California and elsewhere in the country must meet limits set by the United States government.
The importers were warned about the illegal pesticide content of their products when the tainted produce was traced back to them. But the companies continued to import produce from the same suspect sources and sell the food. The produce was destroyed or quarantined.
Pesticides on food are a public health issue. These chemicals remain in the human body for years. Babies are born with pesticides in their bodies. Pesticide exposures can cause birth defects, Parkinson’s Disease, and may be linked to cancers and reproductive disorders.