New Food Safety Questions
Kathryn Taylor, Former UGA Stone Fruit Horticulturist
New questions have been raised concerning pesticide residues on US produce. Pesticide residue studies were conducted in 1998 and 1999 in the peach industry in Georgia and South Carolina that demonstrated that pesticide levels on peach peel were less than 1% of the tolerances set by the USDA when they are field packed (packed directly in the field without washing or brushing the fruit in a packing facility). These studies showed that pesticide residue levels on fruit that was run over a packing line were reduced 300% than when field packed. However, the levels of pesticide residue were reduced further by cleaning packing lines weekly or even daily with food safe detergents to remove contaminants that could potentially accumulate on the packing line. Since the 1999 study, preliminary research findings have shown that daily cleaning of the packing line reduced pesticide levels 18 fold, 5400% below the tolerance set by the USDA. Peach packing facilities throughout the Southeast have responded to this finding and made it a practice to clean their packing lines daily. This year a study is underway to determine what the pesticide levels are on fruit a decade later when they are field packed and when they are packed in a packing facility. These studies are a word to the wise consumer. Simply washing your fruits and vegetables well prior to use makes an already safe product even safer.
Questions or comments?
Rebekah Auman Hartley