In Alliance for Food and Farming blogs over the last decade, this same sentence has been written repeatedly: “The newly released U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Pesticide Data Program (PDP) report found over 99% of all foods sampled had residues well below Environmental Protection Agency safety standards, if residues were present at all.”
With little fanfare or attention, the USDA released the 2021 PDP report on December 21 and the findings were consistent with previous years and confirms two things: The first is the outstanding level of compliance among farmers with pesticide use laws and regulations to protect farm workers, the environment and consumers.
The second is how safe our fruits and vegetables are. According to USDA: “Based on the PDP data, consumers can feel confident about eating a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.”
More from the USDA about the PDP: “USDA uses the data to better understand the relationship of pesticide residues to agricultural practices and to implement USDA’s Integrated Pest Management objectives. USDA also works with U.S. growers to improve agricultural practices and to facilitate the adoption of integrated pest management techniques, including judicious use of pesticides, throughout the food supply chain.”
As we celebrate this very positive report, we also continually lament the lack of attention on these results over the years. Since the report release, there has been no coverage by mainstream media about the 2021 PDP, which is concerning since this is a comprehensive program with an emphasis on ensuring the safety of foods consumed by infants and children.
More from USDA: “The PDP provides high-quality, nationally representative pesticide residue data that contribute to the information available to help ensure consumer confidence in the foods they provide to their families. The PDP tests a wide variety of domestic and imported foods, with a strong focus on foods that are consumed by infants and children.”
And yet, no coverage or attention especially during a time where food is a major focus by media?
Over the coming weeks, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) will do our best to share the USDA PDP results in our efforts to support consumer choice when purchasing produce. Because consumers need this information.
AFF research showed that almost 80% of consumers surveyed found the USDA PDP report results made them confident about the safety of produce. Seventy eight percent of consumers also agreed “that government regulations and other food safety efforts are working well to protect public health.”
Why is reassuring consumers about produce safety so important? Because only one in 10 of us eat enough of these nutrient-dense foods every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And, peer reviewed research has shown that safety fears perpetuated by certain groups are among the barriers to increased consumption.
Consumers should have access to truthful, real and credible information about produce safety so they can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families. The lack of attention to the USDA PDP report increases our vulnerability to disinformation from groups who benefit from promoting safety inaccuracies about the more accessible and affordable fruits and vegetables.