In addition to USDA and EPA, the Federal Food and Drug Administration as well as numerous state and county agencies monitor, oversee and enforce pesticide regulations in the U.S.  In fact, the government testing requirements for pesticides allowed for use on foods are more extensive than for chemicals in any other category. The U.S. system regulating pesticides is also more stringent than the European standards.

“Because of these stringent safety standards with compliance verified by monitoring programs, like the USDA’s Pesticide Data Program, consumers should not let fears regarding pesticide residues become a barrier to their consumption of the produce commonly found in the U.S. marketplace, regardless if the produce was grown under organic or conventional practices,” says Dr. Keen.  “Very simply, you are compromising your health if you aren’t consuming enough fruits and vegetables.  This is why we are seeing the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ initiative carrying this important message to try and improve public health.”

The Alliance for Food and Farming recently began an effort to provide consumers with credible, trustworthy and easy-to-understand information about the safety of all fruits and vegetables. The cornerstone of this effort is a website http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com which contains information from experts in toxicology, nutrition, risk assessment and farming.  The site is designed to encourage increased consumption of all fruits and vegetables – whether they are organic or conventionally grown.  

“A key piece of information on this website is an Expert Panel Report conducted by five scientists who reviewed claims made by special interest groups about the safety of fruits and vegetables with respect to pesticide residues,” said Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  “This panel of scientists was clear that the food safety systems imposed by the government are health protective for all consumers, including infants, children and pregnant women.”

The website also has a “calculator” section where consumers can calculate the very high number of servings of various fruits and vegetables that children, teenagers, women and men would have eat and still not experience any effect at all from minute amounts of pesticide residues that may be present.  This “calculator” section is based upon analyses by a University of California toxicologist.

But, what if consumers are still concerned about pesticide residues?  “Follow the advice of the Federal Food and Drug Administration and just wash it,” Dolan says.  The FDA states that by simply washing produce under running tap water, you can often remove or eliminate any minute residues which may be present.  “Washing is a healthful habit that consumers should use for both organic or conventionally grown produce,” Dolan adds.