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USDA report again shows broad safety of pesticide levels on food


In today’s society, ag producers get a bad rap when it comes to spraying pesticides on their products. However, a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that farmers are utilizing this technology in a productive manner. The USDA published the 2020 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary, which shows that more than 99 percent of the samples tested had pesticide residues below benchmark levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This report for 2020, issued by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, marks the 30th year of PDP results. Over the 30 years, USDA has tested 126 commodities, including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, grains, fish, rice, specialty products and water. PDP monitoring results for more than 310,000 samples through the years are available on the Pesticide Data Program website.

Each year, the USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested by the PDP on a rotating basis. In 2020, tests were conducted on 9,600 samples from 18 commodities of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. The Agricultural Marketing Service partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide residue levels on the selected food commodities.

Image by B Brown, Shutterstock

The USDA tests a wide variety of domestic and imported foods, with a strong focus on foods that are consumed by infants and children. The EPA relies on PDP data to conduct dietary risk assessments and to ensure that any pesticide residues in foods remain at or below levels that EPA has set. The data also provide regulators, farmers, processors, manufacturers, consumers and scientists with important insights into the actual levels of pesticide residues found on widely consumed foods.

The annual pesticide residue results are reported to the Food and Drug Administration and the EPA in monthly reports as testing takes place throughout the year. The FDA and EPA are immediately notified if a PDP test discovers residue levels that could pose a public safety concern.

The 2020 data and summary can be found on the Pesticide Data Program page of the AMS website.

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