An October 2014 report by the U.S. General Accountability Office that suggests the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program “have room for improvement in the way they collect and share data on pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables and other food.”[i]
From 1970 to 2007, hundreds of millions of pounds of pesticides were used on U.S. crops every year to protect crops from insects and other pests. The Environmental Protection Agency set tolerance standards for pesticides to protect consumers. The GAO was asked to review federal oversight of pesticide residues in food to examine for limitations in the monitoring practices.
The GAO claims that the FDA’s “approach to monitoring for violations has limitations,” pointing to the fact that while the FDA shows that “pesticide residue violation rates in 10 selected fruits and vegetables were low” from 2008 to 2012, “less than one-tenth of 1% of imported shipments in 2012” were tested for the pesticides.
“Limitations in FDA’s methodology hamper its ability to determine the national incidence and level of pesticide residues in the foods it regulates, one of its stated objectives.”[ii]
The FDA is also cited for not disclosing in annual monitoring reports that “it does not test for several pesticides with an Environmental Protection Agency established tolerance (the maximum amount of a pesticide residue that is allowed to remain on or in a food).”[iii]
Despite the challenges on the FDA’s programs and processes, government and agricultural industry sources agree that the GAO’s report “doesn’t change the fact that government tests show that fruits and vegetables are safe for consumers.”
Read Teledyne’s Applications Notes to learn about the process of testing for pesticide residues, including using Teledyne’s Automate-Q40, a new system that automates the QuEChERS sample preparation workflow.