MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Consumer reports has recently published the results of a study from UMASS Amherst evaluating different methods of removing residues of pesticides from apples. The study, Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples, was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) wants consumers to know that this study does not examine or evaluate the safety of apples or the amount of pesticides on them. Researcher applied pesticides to apples in the laboratory to determine the effectiveness of different washing methods.
“Consumers should be reassured that researchers couldn’t do this study just using apples from an orchard or a market,” said Doug Gillespie, MFBF executive director. “The reality is that the apples that consumers purchase have little to no pesticide on them – and apparently not enough to do a valid study such as this.”
In the real world, when pesticides are applied to apple trees it happens well before harvest, often before the apple itself even forms. Modern pesticides do break down over time with exposure to the elements. Any residue that might be remain on the apples is very, very low. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies are vigilant in their monitoring of pesticide use and residues.
Massachusetts is an industry leader in integrated pest management (IPM), particularly in tree fruit. IPM is an approach to pest control which relies not only on pesticides, but on cultural, mechanical and biological controls.
“Pesticides are still part of the mix in controlling orchard pests, but they’re not the mainstay, nor the first thing growers look to,” Gillespie said.
Fresh fruits and vegetables offer far more health benefits than they do risks. While USDA recommends that consumers eat 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables per day, the average U.S. consumer eats only 1 ½ cups per day.
“An apple a day will still help keep the doctor away,” Gillespie said. “Yes, it’s a good idea to wash it before you eat it, just as it’s smart to wash your hands before you eat. The apple though is still healthy, and this is the time of year when they are the tastiest.”
—Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation
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