Pesticides pose a significant risk in 20% of fruits and vegetables, Consumer Reports finds


Pesticide-free parks pilot program showing signs of success in New York

Pesticide-free parks pilot program showing signs of success in New York


A healthy diet includes large portions of fruits and vegetables, but not the unhealthy dose of pesticides found in about one in five products examined by Consumer Reports.

An examination of 59 common fruits and vegetables found that pesticides posed significant risks in 20 percent of them, from peppers, blueberries and green beans to potatoes and strawberries, according to results released Thursday by the consumer advocacy group without profit.

In its most comprehensive review to date, CR said it analyzed seven years of data from the Department of Agriculture, which annually tests a selection of conventional and organic produce grown or imported into the US for pesticide residues.

“Our new findings continue to raise red flags,” CR said in its report. In addition to finding unhealthy levels of chemicals used by farmers to control insects, fungi and weeds, one food, green beans, had residues of a pesticide that has not been allowed to be used on vegetables in the United States for more than 'a decade.

CR found that imported products, particularly from Mexico, were more likely to carry risky levels of pesticide residues.

Pesticide-free parks pilot program showing signs of success in New York


The good news? There's no need to worry about pesticides in nearly two-thirds of produce, including nearly all organic fruits and vegetables examined.

The analysis found that broccoli was a safe bet, for example, not because the vegetable contained no pesticide residues, but because the highest-risk chemicals were found at low levels and in only a few samples.

Health problems arise from long-term exposure to pesticides or if exposure occurs during pregnancy or early childhood, according to James Rogers, a microbiologist who oversees food safety at CR.

CR advises shoppers to limit exposure to harmful pesticides by using their analysis to help determine, for example, when buying organic makes the most sense, given that it's often a substantially more expensive option.

The findings don't mean that people should cut the highest-risk foods out of their diet entirely, since eating them once in a while is fine, Rogers said. She advised swapping white potatoes for sweet potatoes or eating peas instead of green beans as healthy options, “so you're not eating those riskier foods every time.”

“The best option is to eat organic for the very high-risk items,” Rogers told CBS MoneyWatch, citing blueberries as an example where paying more means less pesticides. “We recommend the USDA organic label because it's better regulated” compared to organic imports, he added.

Thousands of workers become ill from pesticide poisoning each year, and studies have linked occupational use of a variety of pesticides to a higher risk of health problems, including Parkinson's disease, breast cancer, and the diabetes


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *