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Are Residual Pesticides on Food Safe to Eat? | Chem Service | Greyhound Chromatography

Are Pesticides on Food Safe to Eat?

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Pesticides often get a bad reputation in the food industry. People are constantly complaining that food that is sprayed with pesticides is worse than food that isn't sprayed with these chemicals. According to a survey from Consumer Reports, approximately 85 percent of Americans are worried about pesticides on their produce. However, organic fruits and vegetables cost 49 percent more than regular produce on average. However, how do you know any type of food – organic or not – wasn't sprayed with pesticides? If it was, is it really that awful to eat?

A surprising discovery
Carl Winter, Ph.D., Director of the FoodSafe Program and Extension Food Toxicologist at the University of California-Davis, Best Food Facts stated that ingesting pesticides isn't that bad for you. He noted that most produce is sprayed with pesticides, and organic produce is no exception. Unlike regular pesticides, organic produce is only sprayed with EPA-approved pesticides, which usually are made out of natural products. Winter noted that while organic produce may have less chemicals on it overall, there can still be traces. Some studies have found that 30 percent of the studied organic produce had some level of detectable pesticides on them.

However, despite the presence of any type of pesticide, most fruits and vegetables people eat aren't harmful to them. The amount of pesticides on each individual piece of produce tends to be very minimal, causing little to no effect on humans.

"In the case of pesticide residues on food, we can detect them, but generally at very tiny levels," Winter told Best Food Facts. "I think consumers are concerned because they're aware that these chemicals, which have potential toxic effects, show up on foods. However, the levels at which we detect these pesticides are so low consumers have nothing to worry about."

Understanding variations
Yet the amount and type of pesticides on produce can vary, which can make all the difference in the long run. For instance, some is known for containing higher levels of pesticides than others. Strawberries, tangerines and hot peppers all contain high to extremely high levels of pesticides, according to Consumer Reports, which is why it might be wise to stick to organic versions of these types of produce. People can find out exactly which fruits and vegetables carry the most pesticides, and which ones carry the least through food guides online.

The average American has 29 different types of pesticides in their body at all times. However, the amount of these pesticides is so small that the human health isn't compromised by it. Winter recently performed a mass study to determine how harmful pesticides were on humans. He discovered that the amount of pesticides in the human body is 10,000 to 100,000 times lower than the pesticide levels found in laboratory animals. Winter noted these animals did not experience any harmful effects throughout their lifetime despite their pesticide levels, proving that the human intake may not be so bad after all.

If you are generally concerned about your intake, always wash your fruits and vegetables and check out an online guide that ranks produce with the highest levels of pesticides.


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