Pesticide residue levels on produce tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are well within the safety requirements established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The USDA recently published the 2017 Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary which shows more than 99 percent of all samples tested were well below the threshold considered safe by EPA. The 203-page summary also found that 53 percent of the samples actually had no detectable residue levels at all.
“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 report said. “USDA uses the data to better understand the relationship of pesticide residues to agricultural practices and to enhance USDA’s Integrated Pest Management objectives. USDA also works with U.S. growers to improve agricultural practices.”
The testing program has been going on for more than 25 years, with USDA and EPA working together in the selection of products to be tested on a rotating basis that have included fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products and water. Some of the fresh and processed fruit and vegetables that were sampled for the 2017 survey were onions, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, cabbage, mangoes, cucumbers and asparagus. The testing of 10,541 samples was conducted in California, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan, Texas, Maryland, Washington, Ohio and New York.
USDA tests both domestic and imported foods, with a strong emphasis on foods that are consumed by infants and children. The majority of samples tested were domestic products, while a little more than a quarter of them were imports and less than 2 percent were of mixed or unknown origin. Approximately one-half of one percent of the sampled foods exhibited residue levels that were over tolerance levels, and of that half-percent the majority of those products were imported.