Random USDA Testing Finds 34 Unapproved Pesticides on Cilantro


Photo: karen.tkr

Hold the guacamole for just a moment and make sure that your cilantro is organic. Food safety came front and center this week when random USDA testing found 34 different varieties of pesticide residue atop a batch of conventional cilantro. The Chicago Tribune reports that when the USDA randomly tested a batch of cilantro for the first time in its 20 year program, it found 34 unapproved pesticides.

According to the story:

Azoxystrobin and captan are legal for use on potatoes but were found 16 times at levels that exceeded federal limits, the most such detections in this round of testing. Next on the list for excessive amounts of legal pesticides were imported asparagus and domestic spinach.

"We would not pooh-pooh these violations," said Roy, of the FDA. "They all constitute adulterated food. But we are also talking about a relatively minor food. ... We have to be risk-based and apply our main resources to foods consumed most often by infants and children -- and those are your major fresh fruits and vegetables."

I don't consider cilantro a minor food at all. It's used in tons of recipes, especially in the summer time. But at least medical experts are beginning to refer to the risk of pesticide residue.

Again, the Chicago Tribune:

Some medical experts, however, are increasingly concerned about even low-level exposure to pesticides, especially in utero.

"The story of pesticides in food is part of a larger story of our growing knowledge of the exquisite vulnerability of the developing human brain to pesticides and other toxic chemicals," said Dr. Phillip Landrigan, director of the Children's Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Along with colleagues, he has been researching the effects of chlorpyrifros on humans.

Why calculate risks when you can simply buy it organically grown without dangerous levels of pesticide residue? Or better yet, grow it on your back porch or in your garden.

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