Rest easy, Northland.  The food we buy at the grocery store is relatively safe to eat for our families.

While food safety is a valid concern these days - with the large number of recalls and hype in the news - there isn't a lot of reason to worry.  This is especially true when it comes to residual pesticide levels on the produce that's available in the grocery store.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently shared the results of their annual Pesticide Data Program (PDP).  2022 marks 31 years that the agency has sampled and released data about pesticide residue found on the food we buy at the grocery store.

The good news?  The FDA concluded that "in 2021, over 99 percent of the samples tested had residues below the tolerances established by the EPA, with 24.0 percent having no detectable residue".  The report shared the findings for the United States as a whole - including food sold in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

To come up with their findings, the USFDA processed 10,127 random samples from grocery stores.  "Of those samples, 94 percent were fresh and processed fruit and vegetables".  Here is a list of the produce that they tested for pesticide residue:

  • Blueberries (both fresh and frozen)
  • Broccoli
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplant
  • Grape juice
  • Green beans
  • Peaches (fresh and frozen)
  • Pears
  • Plums
  • Summer squash
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Tangerines
  • Watermelon
  • Winter squash

The USFDA also included testing of corn, grain, and butter commodities.

As far as concerns about the differences between foreign and domestic products, the agency tested both.  Domestic samples made up 67.8 percent of the survey, foreign (or imported) samples made up 30.8 percent, 0.9 percent were of "mixed national origin", and 0.5 percent were "of unknown origin". Samples were obtained from each state, based upon their population for an apportioned sample.

When all of the data was compiled and summarized, the USFDA concluded that "[r]residues exceeding the tolerance were detected in less than one (0.53) percent".

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