The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has posted data from the 2011 Pesticide Data Program (PDP) Annual Summary. This information, along with an explanatory guide for consumers, can be found at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp. The 2011 PDP report confirms that overall pesticide chemical residues found on the foods tested are at levels below the tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and do not pose a safety concern.

In May of 1991, USDA initiated the PDP to test commodities in the U.S. food supply for pesticide residues. Since passage of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA), one of PDP’s focuses has been on testing foods that are most likely consumed by infants and children.

AMS partners with cooperating state agencies to collect and analyze pesticide chemical residue levels on selected foods. In implementing the FQPA, the EPA uses data from PDP to enhance its programs for food safety and help evaluate dietary exposure to pesticides.

Each year, USDA and EPA work together to identify foods to be tested on a rotating basis. In 2011, surveys were conducted on a variety of foods including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, soybeans, eggs, dairy products, and water. Similar to previous years, the 2011 report shows that overall pesticide chemical residues found on foods tested are at levels well below the tolerances set by the EPA. The report does show that residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in 0.27 percent of the samples tested. Some residues were found with no established tolerance levels or tolerance exemptions, but EPA has determined the extremely low levels of those residues are not a food safety risk, and the presence of such residues does not pose a safety concern.

Statement from USDA:

“Consistent with guidance from health and nutrition experts – and as affirmed federal nutrition guidance that urges people to make half their plate fruits and vegetables – we encourage everyone to continue to eat more fruits and vegetables in every meal and wash them before you do so.”

Statement from FDA:

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is responsible for assessing whether pesticide chemical residues found on food make the food unlawful under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

FDA reviews possible violations revealed by the USDA’s PDP testing and conducts follow-up sampling if necessary, under its own pesticide residue monitoring program to ensure compliance and to protect the public health.

Statement from EPA:

“The newest data from the PDP program confirm that pesticide residues in food do not pose a safety concern for Americans. EPA remains committed to a rigorous, science-based, and transparent regulatory program for pesticides that continues to protect people’s health and the environment.”

Since its inception, the program has tested 109 commodities including fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, meat and poultry, grains, catfish, rice, specialty products, and water. This year, the program expanded to include samples of canned beets, papayas, snap peas, and tangerines.

The data is a valuable tool for consumers, food producers and processors, chemical manufacturers, environmental interest groups, and food safety organizations.

The findings of the Pesticide Data Program Annual Summary, Calendar Year 2011 can be downloaded at www.ams.usda.gov/pdp. Printed copies of it will be available later this year and can be obtained by writing to the Monitoring Programs Division, Science and Technology, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA, 8609 Sudley Rd., Suite 206, Manassas, Va., 20110; by faxing (703) 369-0678; by calling (703) 330-2300, Ext. 110; or by submitting an e-mail request to amspo.data@ams.usda.gov.