What Consumers Should Know - 2011 Pesticide Data Program Report
This report shows that overall pesticide residues found on foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that overall pesticide residues found on baby food are lower than the levels found on other commodities
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages the consumption of fruits and vegetables in every meal as part of a healthy diet. Consumers should always rinse fruits and vegetables in water.
- Before a company can sell or distribute any pesticide in the United States of America, the EPA must review studies on the pesticide and determine that it will not pose unreasonable risks to human health or the environment. Only if EPA makes that determination, will it license or register that pesticide for use in strict accordance with label directions.
- EPA regulates pesticide use under two major federal statutes: the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) of 1947, which regulates pesticide registrations in the U.S., and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) of 1938 under which EPA establishes tolerances (maximum legally permissible levels) for pesticide residues in food. The Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) of 1996 amended these two pesticide laws to mandate a single, healthbased standard for all pesticides in all foods. FIFRA and FFDCA now provide stricter safety standards than before the enactment of FQPA, especially for infants and children and require periodic re-evaluation of pesticide registrations and tolerances to ensure that the scientific data supporting pesticide registrations will remain up to date in the future. The Pesticide Data Program (PDP) provides data for the periodic re-evaluation of food tolerances.
- If the pesticide is used on food crops, EPA sets a tolerance, or maximum residue level of the pesticide that can remain in or on foods. In setting the tolerance, EPA is required to make a safety finding for the pesticide accounting for all possible routes of exposure through food, water and in home environments.
- In evaluating consumer exposure to pesticides through the diet, EPA uses all available information provided by company registrants, PDP, and others to verify that tolerances meet the safety standard set by the FQPA of 1996. The PDP data are valuable in conducting dietary risk assessments for pesticides when used in conjunction with other data available to EPA.
- There may be more than one pesticide available for use on the same crop; however, not every pesticide available is used on each crop. Pesticide treatments vary according to crop geographical location, time of year, climatic conditions, and pest and disease pressures. These differences are captured by PDP data, which reflect actual residues present in food grown in various regions of the U.S. and overseas.
- PDP data are essential in supporting efforts by the USDA and EPA to assess the American consumer’s dietary exposure to pesticide residues, as directed by the FQPA. PDP concentrates its efforts mainly on foods most often consumed by infants and children.
- The PDP laboratory methods are geared to detect the smallest possible levels of pesticide residues, even when those levels are well below the tolerances established by EPA. Before testing, PDP analysts washed samples for 15-20 seconds with gently running cold water as a consumer would do at home; no chemicals, soap or any special wash was used.
- PDP informs the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) if residues detected exceed the EPA tolerance or have no EPA tolerance established.
- FDA enforces EPA residue tolerances for all foods except meat and poultry. In cases of apparent violations detected by PDP, the data are reviewed by FDA to determine whether criteria for regulatory sampling are met and that information identifying the responsible grower, importer, or manufacturer is available. When satisfied, FDA will generally conduct sampling under its regulatory monitoring program. FDA publishes its pesticide program data at www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodContaminants....