Issues

The Dirty Dozen

Debunking the Dirty Dozen myth

You may have heard about the dirty dozen – a report about the trace amounts of pesticides sometimes found on some of our favorite produce. Unfortunately, the review uses an unscientific method that misrepresents the facts and can cause unnecessary concern for consumers.

Crop protection products are all thoroughly and repeatedly reviewed for safety and the mere detection of residues does not affect the safety of the food. All food in Canada, whether it’s grown through conventional methods or organically, is highly regulated by the Canadian Food Inspection agency to ensure it is safe.

Fruits and veggies are safe to eat

Take fruits and vegetables for example. In instances where trace amounts of pesticides are found, it is in the range of parts per million or less – much, much too low to have any impact on consumers. In fact, recent data from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency shows that about 88 per cent of all fresh food items and 90 per cent of processed food items show no traces of pesticides at all. And more than 99 per cent of fresh fruits and vegetables and 99 per cent of imported foods tested, show residue limits that are below the limits established by Health Canada.

What’s most important is that consumers get the required five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The decision to buy organic or conventional foods is a personal choice and pesticide residues are not something that should factor into it.

Annual Environmental Working Group report

Every year the Environmental Working Group out of the United States publishes a dirty dozen list of fruit and vegetables it claims contain high pesticide residue levels. Fortunately for Canadians who are concerned about their health, the list is finally being debunked and consumers are being assured that these foods are indeed safe.

Canadian farmers have a bigger challenge than ever before to provide consumers with blemish-free, high-quality products. To do this, they rely on pest control tools to protect their fruit and vegetable crops against damage or even destruction from pests.

Health Canada’s role in ensuring safety

The pesticides farmers use to help grow their crops are highly regulated by Health Canada to ensure they pose no risk to the farmers applying them or to the people eating food grown with them.

The federal government’s process involves a scientific review and risk assessment by over 350 scientists at Health Canada, before registering a pesticide for use or sale, making crop protection products among the most stringently regulated products in Canada.

Next time you reach for an apple or pick up a piece of celery, you can do so knowing that they’re safe to eat.

Additional resources:

Safe Fruits and Veggies.com

Why you shouldn’t panic about pesticide in produce

CropLife America produce safety toolkit