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August 20, 2009

In a letter to the editors at the Chicago Tribune, United Fresh joined other produce industry organizations in clarifying several aspects of the newspaper's August 12 story on pesticide residues. The industry letter questioned the story's conclusions about the actual risk posed by residues on fruits and vegetables, saying "...a child, a teen or an adult would have to eat 400 to nearly 16,000 servings a day to reach the science-based no effect level."

The Tribune story was based on USDA data and independent testing commissioned by the newspaper on several commodities. The letter to the editor is scheduled to run in the August 24 edition of the Tribune.

"Just the fact that pesticides are detectable doesn't mean they have any impact on public health," said David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety & technology at United Fresh. "The U.S. agriculture industry has among the best controls of residues anywhere in the world and a decade of USDA monitoring confirms that. All the major food service and retail companies require the same level of control for imported produce.  U.S. consumers should trust that the produce is safe from pesticides." 

"The USDA Pesticide Data Program's executive summary clearly states that over 99% of the foods analyzed did not contain residues above the safety tolerances established by the Environmental Protection Agency," said the August 17 letter. 

Also signing the letter to the Tribune: the Alliance for Food and Farming, Produce Marketing Association and Western Growers Association.  For more information, please contact United Vice President of Communications Ray Gilmer at 202-303-3425.

United Fresh Produce Association
1901 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20006
Tel: 202 303 3400
Fax: 202 303 3433