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Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce

(WASHINGTON, 10/21/03):  To celebrate the first anniversary of the national organic standards, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released its newest findings on pesticides in produce.  EWG researchers analyzed over 100,000 U.S. government pesticide test results and detected 192 different pesticides on 46 popular fresh fruits and vegetables. To help consumers reduce their exposure to these pesticides, EWG has collaborated with Stonyfield Farm to publish the new Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

For years, shoppers have had food labels and other guides or lists to help them choose foods that contain less fat, cholesterol or artificial additives.  With the Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, people concerned about pesticides can make choices to reduce the number of pesticides they eat.  While people need to understand that just because pesticides or other chemicals have been detected in produce does not mean that there's necessarily a negative health connection.  Many people feel, however, that in the absence of conclusive data, it may be better to err on the side of minimizing pesticide consumption, exposure, and contact while still getting the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day for a healthy diet.  Consumers who are concerned about pesticides can either buy organic produce or use the Shopper's Guide to choose foods that contain the least pesticide residues.  According to the Environmental Working Group, using this tool may reduce the number of pesticides in produce a person injests by up to 90 percent.

A small but growing body of scientific literature points to the benefits of eating pesticide-free food, mostly in children. In 2002, a University of Washington study found that children who ate mostly organic produce had far lower levels of pesticide by-products in their bodies. Over the past six years, the federal government has banned or restricted the use of over a dozen pesticides because of their health risks.  While more and more pesticides are being investigated and banned, consumers can use the Shopper's Guide now to make informed and proactive decisions in their produce purchases.

Stonyfield Farm, the nation's leading organic yogurt manufacturer, created the convenient wallet-size Guide to deliver this information to consumers.  Downloadable from both www.foodnews.org and www.stonyfield.com, the Guide lists the 12 produce items that are consistently most and least likely to contain pesticide residues.

EWG is a consumer advocacy group which aims to protect human health and the environment through its research on pollution in air, water, food and people.   EWG's reports are available online at www.ewg.org.

Created: 10/21/2003  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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