PMA Challenges NBC Story on Unsafe Pesticide Levels in Produce

NBC nutritionist Joy Bauer yesterday stated in a segment titled "Organic food: Is it worth the extra money," made such a statement.

"PMA works aggressively to challenge misleading and incorrect public statements that call into question the safety and wholesomeness of produce such as was presented in this program," according to PMA President Bryan Silbermann.

"The program suggests that there are fruits and vegetables that consumers should always buy organic because their conventionally-grown counterparts tend to be laden with pesticides. In reality, pesticides are subjected to hundreds of tests before they are approved for use. When the government sets residue tolerances, it builds in a safety buffer of at least 100 fold," he explained. "Purchases of organically grown produce are on the rise in supermarkets and in restaurants. They are competing very successfully in the marketplace and I am on record as saying that interest in organics will continue to grow their share of fruit and vegetable consumption."

Additionally, said PMA officials, the NBC story stipulated which fruits and vegetables "must" be purchased organically, which fruits and vegetables ones should be considered, and which ones do not need to be organically grown.

"This story pops up more often than Elvis on the street corner, and it's just as false," said Kathy Means, PMA vice president of government relations. "All fresh produce on retail shelves and restaurant plates is safe to eat thanks to strong food safety programs from industry and oversight from government. That's true for conventionally produced fruits and vegetables as well as organic produce. The implications about imported produce were equally wrong. Imports must meet the same standards U.S. products meet. That's the law.

Means said it was "irresponsible" to scare consumers away from produce, at a time when all consumers should be eating more produce, not less, due to the obesity epidemic, particularly among children.

"The nutritionist on the 'Today Show' was simply repeating a tired report from a consumer group that's not really helping consumers. Calling responsible, legal use of pesticides 'contamination' is ridiculous. Any residues on produce are so infinitesimal that reputable health authorities have concluded that they are beneath any realistic threshold of harm. Those who argue that consumers are at risk from the minuscule pesticide residues on fresh fruits and vegetables are ignoring the facts and are doing consumers a grave disservice," she said.


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