USDA scientists looked at pesticide residues on baby food and analysed about 190 samples each of prepared baby food consisting of green beans, pears and sweet potatoes. Green beans prepared as baby food tested positive for five pesticides, including the organophosphate methamidophos, which was found on 9.4 per cent of samples, and the organophosphate acephate, on 7.8 per cent of samples.
Ninety-two per cent of the pear samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, with 26 per cent of samples containing five or more pesticides and 15 different pesticides on all samples. The pesticide iprodione, which EPA has categorised as a probable human carcinogen, was detected on three baby food pear samples, a violation of FDA regulations.
"Organophosphate pesticides are of special concern since they are associated with neurodevelopmental effects in children,” said EWG toxicologist Johanna Congleton."Federal testing of pesticide residue in baby food was long overdue, as infants are especially vulnerable to toxic compounds," said Andrew Weil, MD, founder and director, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. "Parents should purchase organic baby foods or, better yet, prepare their own by putting organic foods through a simple hand-turned food mill.”
Dr Andrew Monk, BFA Standards Convenor says: "These results contradict a long-held myth that modern foods are free from pesticides, let alone cocktails of pesticides in some cases. There is understandable increasing public concern that the wool may be being pulled over their eyes on these and related issues. Organic production bans all these synthetic pesticides in question in the production of organic foods.
"Not just of concern for consumers directly in terms of what they consume, this also highlights an environmental issue via the ongoing addition of synthetic chemistries into our shared environment, waterways and foods. This should be of concern to all, from farmers and others living in rural regions, right through to the consumers who consume produce with residues still on end products for sale."
There were similarities in the findings of the EWG study and that of the February 2012 study by Melbourne-based Friends of the Earth. The EWG research found that the most contaminated fruits were apples, followed by domestic blueberries, grapes, imported nectarines, peaches and strawberries. The most contaminated vegetables were bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes and spinach. High, detectable levels of common pesticides were found, including highly toxic organophosphate insecticides.
Friends of the Earth found that the most ‘at risk’ foods in Australia due to pesticide exposure included apples, wheat, strawberries, pears and grapes, followed by lettuce, nectarines, peaches, bread, bran, biscuits, imported tea, barley, tomatoes, apricots, canola, flour, carrots, plums and green beans. The most commonly detected pesticides on Australian food products are organophosphorus insecticides, making up 28 per cent of all detections.