PMA Challenges 'Today' Show Produce Safety Report

NEWARK, Del. -- The Produce Marketing Association (PMA) here is vigorously challenging information presented yesterday by NBC nutritionist Joy Bauer on the 'Today' show.

The segment, titled, "Organic food: Is it worth the extra money?" suggests that some conventionally grown fresh produce items are unsafe because of pesticide residues.

"PMA works aggressively to challenge misleading and incorrect public statements that call into question the safety and wholesomeness of produce, such as was presented in this program," said PMA president Bryan Silbermann. "The program suggests that there are fruits and vegetables that consumers should always buy organic because their conventionally grown counterparts tend to be laden with pesticides. In reality, pesticides are subjected to hundreds of tests before they are approved for use. When the government sets residue tolerances, it builds in a safety buffer of at least 100-fold."

Additionally, the program stipulated which fruits and vegetables consumers "must" purchase in organic versions, which fruits and vegetables they should consider so buying, and which ones don't need to be organically grown.

"This story pops up more often than Elvis on the street corner, and it's just as false," noted Kathy Means, PMA's v.p. of government relations. "All fresh produce on retail shelves and restaurant plates is safe to eat, thanks to strong food safety programs from industry and oversight from government. That's true for conventionally produced fruits and vegetables as well as organic produce. The implications about imported produce were equally wrong. Imports must meet the same standards U.S. products meet. That's the law. It's irresponsible to scare consumers away from produce. We all need to be eating more produce, not less, especially with the obesity epidemic, particularly among children."

Added Means: "The nutritionist on the 'Today' show was simply repeating a tired report from a consumer group that's not really helping consumers. Calling responsible, legal use of pesticides 'contamination' is ridiculous. Any residues on produce are so infinitesimal that reputable health authorities have concluded that they are beneath any realistic threshold of harm. Those who argue that consumers are at risk from the minuscule pesticide residues on fresh fruits and vegetables are ignoring the facts and are doing consumers a grave disservice."
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