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Washing fruit

Promoting safety, dissing fears of fruits and veggies

Some 60% of consumers [American] express a high concern about pesticide residues, much of which is based on misleading information. With the aim of putting the facts to the fore, a non-profit organisation of organic and conventional farmers, The Alliance for Food and Farming, has devised a very informative and beautifully designed website and resource for science-based information about pesticide residues: www.safefruitsandveggies.com.

One of the tools on the website is a pesticide residue calculator, developed by professor of toxicology, Dr Robert Krieger, who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at University of California, Riverside. 

Krieger analysed the highest residue levels found on fruits and vegetables by the USDA and calculated the number of servings which could be eaten in one day without any negative health effects from the pesticide residues that may be present. The calculator shows that a child could consume hundreds or even thousands of servings of many popular fruits and vegetables in one day and still not experience any negative health effects from pesticide residues.

“Nutritionists tell us we should all be eating more fruits and vegetables for good health, but sometimes with children, it can be difficult to get them to eat any at all,” says Marilyn Dolan Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, which hosts the website to promote consumption of all fruits and vegetables by providing credible food safety information at www.safefruitsandveggies.com.

“The goal of the Safe Fruits and Veggies website and the Pesticide Residue Calculator is to assure parents it is perfectly safe to serve children as many fruits and vegetables as they will eat, whether they are conventional or organic,” continues Dolan. 

“Parents don’t need to be concerned about any negative health risks from conventionally-grown produce, because decades of monitoring by government agencies show that any residues present are extremely minute if they are detected at all. Further, decades of nutritional studies also show the health benefits of eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies and these studies have largely been conducted using conventionally grown produce.”

Dolan notes that children can be very picky eaters and that it is often difficult to get them to eat even one serving of a fruit or vegetable. But nutritionists around the world urge people to eat more produce and it is especially important that children learn at a young age to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in their diets.

“At the end of the day, I think it’s the responsibility of all parents and all adults to encourage children to eat their fruits and vegetables to help ensure they have long and productive lives,” emphasises Dr Carl Keen, Professor of Nutrition with the University of California, Davis.

Consumers interested in learning more can watch a new video featuring children and their reactions when they are shown the very large amounts of produce they could eat based upon Krieger’s analysis. 

Consumers can use the Pesticide Residue Calculator for themselves when they visit the website. 

The USDA recently again confirmed the overall safety of the US food supply with the release of its annual Pesticide Data Program, which monitors pesticide residues found on fruits and vegetables and other foods commonly eaten by infants and children. 

The report shows that pesticide residues found on all but 0.25 percent of the samples tested are within the strict safety limits set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

And one of the best pieces of obvious advice and information it offers if people are concerned about pesticide residues is simple: Just wash it!

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