Last week the US Department of Agriculture released 2009 results from its program of testing for pesticide residues on food. The results show that the vast majority of food samples tested were well below acceptable pesticide residue levels and a tiny number had excessive levels or levels of unapproved pesticides. Residues exceeding the tolerance were found in 0.3% of samples and residues for which a tolerance has not been established were found in 2.7% of samples.
The biggest exceedances were found in cilantro, a crop with low Canadian consumption. Tests found more than 30 unapproved pesticides on cilantro and the Environmental Working Group, an environmental ngo, reported that 44% of all cilantro samples carried residue of at least one unapproved pesticide. EPA has explained that a relatively small number of pesticides are approved for use on cilantro and that many of the pesticides not approved for use on cilantro are acceptable for use on other herbs and vegetables.
Given the quantity of US produced food marketed in Canada, the results are likely to be of interest to Canadian consumers. A more detailed analysis of the exceedances reported by the USDA Pesticide Data Program will be presented in a future issue of Gallon Environment Letter monthly edition.
The USDA results are available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/ams.fetchTemplateData.do?template=TemplateC&navID=PesticideDataProgram&rightNav1=PesticideDataProgram&topNav=&leftNav=ScienceandLaboratories&page=PesticideDataProgram&resultType=