Over the past decade, the percentage of fruit, vegetable and grain items found with the acceptable amount of pesticide residue has increased, according to figures from the FDA testing. 

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Each year, the Food and Drug Administration conducts tests on hundreds of domestic food items for pesticide residue, and, each year, it seems to find more pesticide residue.

The vast majority of products the FDA tests are in line with federal standards, including 2020, the latest year data is available. (The latest FDA report was released this week.)

But, over the past decade, the percentage of fruit, vegetable and grain items found with the acceptable amount of pesticide residue has increased, according to figures from the FDA testing. 

FDA sampling has found: 

  • The amount of fruits that tested positive for pesticide residue within federal tolerances was 50% in 2010; by 2020 about 77% of samples had pesticide residue.
  • The amount of grains that tested positive for pesticide residue within federal tolerances was 21% in 2010; by 2020 about 52.5% of samples had pesticide residue
  • The amount of vegetables that tested positive for pesticide residue within federal tolerances was 32.4% in 2010; by 2020 54.5% of samples had pesticide residue.

The amount of acceptable pesticide residue varies by food. If a product contains more than what the FDA deems its “action level,” the agency can take legal action to remove it from the market. 

In 2020, the FDA detected 185 different pesticides, including imidacloprid, 2,4-D and chlorpyrifos, which was banned earlier this year over health concerns.

Note: The number of samples the FDA analyzes varies each year, so the percentages presented in these graphics are based on different total numbers.



Top image: USDA photo by Brooke DeCubellis