Kathy Brunetti, Agiculture Program Supervisor
California Dept. Pesticide Regulation
Date: February 22, 1996
DPR RELEASES RESULTS OF PESTICIDE RESIDUE
SACRAMENTO -- Cal/EPA's Department of Pesticide Regulation today released
its report of residue monitoring of fresh fruits and vegetables in 1994.
"The results of our program mirror the findings of monitoring programs
conducted by other states, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture," said Chuck Andrews, chief of DPR's
Pesticide Enforcement Branch. "Years of state and federal residue
monitoring clearly show that illegal residues are rare. Moreover, any
residues that are present in produce are typically at exceedingly low or
"These consistent findings, combined with the National Academy of Sciences
report last week, should provide reassurance to consumers about the safety
of the fruits and vegetables they eat," Andrews said.
The NAS released a report last week that reaffirms what food safety experts
have been saying for years, Andrews said. The NAS said that synthetic
chemicals like pesticides are present in the human diet at levels so low
that they are 'unlikely to pose an appreciable cancer risk.'
Moreover, Andrews said, "the NAS concluded that a diet rich in fruits and
vegetables is clearly associated with reduced risk of cancer."
DPR reports annually on the results of its produce sampling, the nation's
largest state residue monitoring program. The most visible component of the
program is marketplace surveillance, in which samples are taken from
throughout the channels of trade--at seaports and other points of entry
into the state, packing sites, and wholesale outlets. The goal of the
program is to have laboratory analyses complete within six hours, so that
if illegal residues are found, it is possible to stop the sale of the
All samples in the marketplace program are analyzed with multiresidue
screens that can simultaneously detect many pesticides. To detect chemicals
that are not picked up in these screens, DPR may also run tests for single
pesticides. These screening techniques can pick up residues as low as 10
parts per billion.
There were 5,588 samples taken of 161 different commodities in the
marketplace program in 1994. In about 66 percent of the samples, no
residues were detectable. Another 32 percent had detectable residues, most
of which were well below the levels that are legally allowable. Only 1.5
percent (84 samples) had an illegal residue.
DPR staff and the county agricultural commissioners (who enforce pesticide
laws locally) investigate all illegal residue detections. The affected
produce is quarantined, and shippers and packers are contacted to find out
where the produce was grown. If the produce came from out of state, the
case is forwarded to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for enforcement
action. If the produce was grown within California, field staff from DPR
and the agricultural commissioners' offices interview growers, pest control
applicators, and others to learn how the produce was contaminated. Possible
enforcement actions can include criminal and civil penalties, and
destruction of the contaminated crop.
DPR's annual report also highlights results of its priority pesticide
program in which monitoring is concentrated on pesticides of special health
interest. Unlike the marketplace surveillance samples, in this program only
crops known to have been treated with a targeted pesticide are tested.
There were 2,342 samples taken in this program in 1994. Although 100
percent of the samples were treated, most samples (86 percent) contained no
detectable residues. Five samples (0.21 percent) had illegal residues over
the legally allowable level.
For a copy of the 1994 Residues in Fresh Produce report, send a $9.00 check
to: Cashier, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, 1020 N Street,
Sacramento 95814. A free copy of the report narrative without tabular data
is also available from DPR's Pesticide Enforcement Branch, at the same
address, or by phone (916) 445-3920. After March 5, the report narrative
can also be downloaded from the "Documents" section of DPR's Internet home