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On Your Table Blog

April 19, 2024

Pesticide concerns still persist

Pesticide concerns still persist

Despite multiple agencies confirming that pesticide use in conventional and organic produce should not be a concern, consumer confusion still exists, according to a study conducted by the International Foods Information Council (IFIC).

While pesticides are used as a tool to ensure safe and abundant food production, as well as protect public health, consumers remained unclear about the methods, reasons and situations where pesticides are used.

According to the IFIC study, 47% of Americans believe that "organic agriculture doesn't use pesticides to grow food," despite the fact that both organic and conventional produce are grown with the use of pesticides.

Furthermore, nearly 60% of those who are concerned with pesticide use believe consuming foods grown with pesticides are bad for their health. And 36% believe that pesticides used today are "more toxic than they have ever been."

"The pesticide residue found on both conventional and organic produce has time and time again been found to be present in minute amounts. Multiple government agencies confirm that these low residue levels do not pose a health or safety risk, yet consumers are still clearly concerned," explained Tamika Sims, PhD, IFIC Senior Director of Agriculture Technology Communications. "I would simply recommend that consumers wash their fresh produce with cold water prior to consuming, to remove any remaining residues."

What is most concerning, however, is that consumers who are concerned about pesticide use simply avoid purchasing or consuming vegetables and fruits. A whopping 71% avoid purchasing vegetables and 59% avoid purchasing fruits.

That misinformation about the safety of our fruits and vegetables could potentially undermine our overall health in the United States.

"Spring is the time when people are planning gardens and planting seeds; it is also typically a time when lists of which fruits and veggies are safer for you to eat start to circulate on newsfeeds," Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, IFIC President & CEO, said. "Our consumer research shows Americans consider how their food was grown when making food decisions, yet at the same time, Americans have never been more removed from the farm. It is our mission to help bridge that gap with consumer insights and science communications.

"We must reassure Americans that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables -- in all forms and from all production methods -- is safe, nutritious, and important for their health and well-being," she said.

In other words, eat your fruits and veggies, people!

Read the full IFIC survey here