A new analysis of government inspection data released by Croplife Canada shows that the vast majority of fruits, vegetables and other foods tested were found to contain zero detectable amounts of residues from pesticides or other chemicals.
Data compiled by the CFIA shows that more than 80% of tested food items had no detectable amounts of any residue, and in cases where there were residues found, only about one percent were in excess of the Maximum Residue Limits set by Health Canada. CFIA is Canada's key science-based regulator for food safety, animal health and plant protection.
"These test results show that Canadians can rest easy when it comes to any concerns they may have about the safety of the foods we eat," said Dr. Renee Blumenfeld, a member of the CropLife Canada Food Protection Council.
The CFIA testing data shows that in cases where trace amounts of chemical residues were found, they were detected in minute quantities, in the range of parts per million or lower.
"It's important that people understand just how small a part per million really is. That's the equivalent of one gram in a metric tonne, which is 1000 kilograms. These are infinitesimal amounts, and far, far below levels that could have any negative impact on health," Blumenfeld said.
"As an example, to ingest enough residue just to reach an Allowable Daily Intake (ADI) set by Health Canada, you may have to eat several thousand servings of the food in question each and every day over your whole lifetime. You'd suffer from health problems related to overeating long before any possible chemical exposure issue came into play," said Peter MacLeod, executive director of Crop Protection Chemistry for CropLife Canada, the trade association of manufacturers and distributors of crop protection products.
Comparisons with other leading agricultural nations show the amount of chemical pesticides used by farmers has been declining since 1980, according to CFIA. In Ontario, farmers have cut their use of chemical pesticides by more than half (52%) over the last 20 years, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food.
CFIA said that a global analysis of the cost of food shows Canada's food prices to be among the most affordable in the world. Canadians spend an average of 11.7% of total income on food, compared with more than 50% in some developing nations. Studies suggest that without the benefit of crop protection, products like pesticides, farm yields would be cut in half, prices of fruits and vegetables would skyrocket by 50-100%.