New Alliance For Food And Farming Website Reports “Dirty Dozen List” Misleads Consumers About Dangers Of Pesticide Residues
A new website is being launched today to help inform consumers about an alternative perspective on pesticide residues and the need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. The new website located at www.safefruitsandveggies.com focuses on findings by an expert panel of toxicologists, risk assessors and nutritionists which concluded that a report known as the Dirty Dozen list, is misleading to consumers, is an impediment to public health because it discourages consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and that there is no scientific evidence that pesticide levels found on produce pose any risk. Based upon these findings, the panel concluded, there is no reason why a consumer should use the Dirty Dozen list to guide their purchasing decisions for fruits and vegetables.
The website was developed by a group of U.S. fruit and vegetable farmers with support from the Produce Marketing Association. It relies heavily on experts from its panel to explain why consumers should not be concerned about pesticide residues on their favorite fresh fruits and vegetables. A copy of the full Expert Panel Report which reviewed the Dirty Dozen list is available on the site. Its key findings are as follows:
- The Dirty Dozen list is misleading to consumers because it is based only on exposure data while remaining silent about available information on the toxicity of pesticides present in the diet. Merely detecting a residue does not mean it is unsafe.
- The U.S. EPA’s 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 more extensive than for chemicals used in any other category, and include testing targeted specifically to assess the potential risks to fetuses, infants and children.
- Given the widespread media attention devoted to the Dirty Dozen list, it is disconcerting that the group behind the list has not shared its algorithm with the scientific community or the public, nor has the report been subjected to outside peer review.
- The currently available scientific evidence does not conclude that there is any risk associated with the pesticide residues found on fresh fruits and vegetables.
- The new website also contains information on the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and outlines the current regulations in place to protect the food supply. The site also provides common sense advice about the importance of eating more fresh fruits and vegetables for good health.
“We have a real problem in the United States. People are not eating enough fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Carl Keen, Professor of Nutrition & Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis and a member of the expert panel who reviewed the Dirty Dozen report. “We are supposed to have 5 to 7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and right now most people are only eating a couple. The Dirty Dozen list is damaging because it can confuse the public into thinking that fruits or vegetables represent a risk to them. This is just simply not the case.”
“Feedback from consumers and practicing nutritionists is beginning to show that concern about pesticide residues is having a negative impact on consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Dave Grotto, RD, who is himself a practicing dietitian offering nutrition consulting services. Grotto applauded the new website as a step in the right direction to offer credible information about pesticides and fresh produce. “I do see that the Dirty Dozen list has had an impact on consumers and in their attitudes about eating fresh fruits and vegetables. What we need to do is encourage — not discourage—greater consumption of these healthful produce.”
The group behind the new website and the Expert Panel Report is the Alliance for Food and Farming, a non-profit organization comprised of farmers and groups who represent farmers. The Alliance for Food and Farming membership includes farmers from all sizes of operations from very large to very small and who produce both conventional and organic fruits and vegetables. The Expert Panel Report was funded by U.S. fruit and vegetable farmers to determine if, in fact, there is any evidence linking pesticide residues on their products to health effects. The report is being submitted to a scientific peer-reviewed publication.
“Like the organization behind the Dirty Dozen report, our farmer-members hope to utilize the power of public information to protect public health. This is why we have developed this website — to provide information that assures consumers it’s not only OK to eat their favorite fruits and vegetables, but that it’s the best thing you can do for your health and the health of your children,” said Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming. “What we are telling consumers really isn’t anything different from what your mom and grandmother have been saying for years — eat your fruits and vegetables.”
Dolan concluded by recognizing that the Environmental Working Group, which publishes the Dirty Dozen report, recently updated its website to provide needed clarification on their recommendations to consumers.
“Information was added in the last few days to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the EWG website which encourages consumers to eat their fruits and vegetables and states the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.” noted Dolan. “The scientists who participated in our Expert Panel report couldn’t agree more.”