Study Shows Consumers Continue to Have Misguided Safety Concerns About Produce

Study Shows Consumers Continue to Have Misguided Safety Concerns About Produce

10/28/2013 9:23 AM

A new study from Colorado State University (CSU) shows that consumers continue to have concerns about the safety of conventionally grown produce and the government regulatory processes in place to protect public health.  Among other findings, the study showed that:  “A distrust in regulatory oversight is a key trigger in the valuation for local and organic.”  And, consumers generally agreed with the statement that “eating organic lowers health risks.” 

These findings are concerning since the body of nutrition science clearly shows that increased consumption of either conventional or organic fruits and veggies results in better overall health and a longer life.  Toxicological analyses also overwhelmingly show the safety of conventional produce – just look at the calculator function and accompanying report on as an example. And, the perception that conventional produce is somehow inferior and less safe could have a negative impact on consumption, especially among lower income consumers who may not be able to afford the organic alternative.

Further, the Expert Panel report commissioned by the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) in 2010 examined the U.S. regulatory system in place to ensure food safety.  The panel found: “The U.S. EPA’s current process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food is rigorous and health protective. The EPA’s testing requirements for pesticides used on food are far more extensive than for chemicals in any other use category, and include testing targeted specifically to assess the potential risks to fetuses, infants and children.” 

It is also noteworthy that the activist organization, Environmental Working Group, recently held up the U.S. regulatory system governing the approval and use of pesticides as an example.  EWG’s Executive Director Heather White stated in an August 29 blog post that: “Industry should be required to show that the chemicals that people are exposed to are safe and pose ‘a reasonable certainty of no harm’ to health and the environment – especially to kids. The pesticide industry has been using this very safety standard for nearly 20 years. And pesticide makers are still in business even though they must demonstrate a reasonable certainty of no harm.”

The CSU study findings underscore that consumers need more science based, factual information about the safety of all produce.  It is timely that the AFF is in the process of updating and expanding the Safety Standards section of the website which describes the regulatory systems in place to ensure the safety of organic and conventional pesticides.  The new site will be launched in January and will be a useful and unique resource for consumers who want to learn more about produce safety.

Read, learn, choose but eat more conventional and organic fruits and veggies for better health.


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