Industry Groups Blast Latest “Dirty Dozen” List

Shoppers in the produce section

The Produce Marketing Association (PMA), the Alliance for Food and Farming, and other industry organizations have been quick to stand in opposition to the Environmental Working Group’s latest “Dirty Dozen” list, released this week.

The following statement comes directly from PMA president Bryan Silbermann:

“The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released its 2013 ‘Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen’ shopper’s guide. Industry members all along the produce supply chain can take steps to help counter EWG’s false claims, including directing consumers to the Alliance for Food and Farming’s where consumers can learn the facts.

The Alliance’s website is a consumer resource for science-based information about the safety of organic and conventional produce backed by expertise in toxicology, pharmacology, risk assessment, and nutrition. On the site, interested consumers can also put residues in proper perspective by using the eye-opening Pesticide Residue Calculator.

Here are additional suggestions for setting this important record straight with your customers and consumers:
• Communicate the truth about pesticides by using the factual information found on the Safe Fruits and Veggies website on packaging, in-store signage, websites, social platforms, dietitian newsletters, and even on menus.
• Educate people about the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables, not less, for better health; Produce for Better Health Foundation’s is a terrific resource.
• Advise people to ‘Just Wash It’ with water if concerned about pesticide residues, guidance that’s based on government recommendations.
• Share stories about growers’ farming practices and food safety commitment to give consumers the complete picture behind their food.

Because PMA believes in the business of informing consumers and upholding the industry’s commitment to providing safe produce, we must set the Dirty Dozen record straight. This is also why PMA remains one of the Alliance’s largest financial supporters and I proudly serve as vice chair of its board of directors. Our support empowers industry to counter misinformation about pesticide residues on fresh produce with science — the same foundation we use to continuously improve food safety.”

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4 comments on “Industry Groups Blast Latest “Dirty Dozen” List

  1. matt

    Said the mouthpiece of the group who wants to protects it's own farming methods. Those that want to believe the produce marketing association, are free to do so. Those that would choose to reduce their exposure to conventional pesticides can use the EWG's list to know which fruits and veggies to buy organic or local where they can inquire about the farmers own practices. Just because a government mouthpiece sets a standard that is "safe" does not necessarily mean consumers will trust it. Especially when government entities will just change the standards whenever they can not be met or when they can not be met feasibly. A good case in point is trace radiation in foods. The NRC upped the "safe" limit of radioactive contamination of foods by over 1000% after Fukushima. So the new "safe" is just as "safe" as the old standard. Many people no longer trust large marketing companies who are paid and supported by those companies who stand to profit by what they say. The same is true of many government agencies because the people working at those agencies got their positions by using money from the same companies who have interest in the policies be made that favor them. So what is a consumer to do? An independent group that is NOT linked to ANY company or government body that has a bone to pick is who I would trust. They would be the only impartial observers. The EWG may not be 100% impartial, but they list the fruits and veggies that MAY have the most potential for pesticide residue. If you had two glasses of water, one with no/undetectable levels of contaminants and one with "safe" levels of contaminants, which will you choose? The government says they are both perfectly safe. MOST people will choose the one with FEWER contaminants. Until the PMA stops looking like a mouthpiece for the big producers, the EWG lists will be given weight, whether the PMA likes it or not.

  2. dave

    You forgot to mention that the PMA is responsible for killing Kennedy. The glass of water reference is completely absurd…..define "contaminants". "Organic" farmers have had their share of "contaminants", we should not forget Germany 2011 where 50 people died and over 4300 were sickened.And the large marketing companies are really just us little guys pooling our money so our voices will be heard.If you look at EWG budget it is over $6,000,000.00 and they have received grants of over $23,000,000.00. Just look at their board of directors and biggest donors, they have huge investments in Canadian farms. One could surmise that if American agriculture fails the folks invested in Canadian agriculture might make a buck or two. I just love folks that get on their high horse and preach down to the rest of us plebeians.

    1. Mike

      Dave, which Kennedy?

      I see nothing in the PMA response regarding the underlying assertions of the dirty dozen; just lots of ways to obfuscate and confuse the consumer with industry “fact” web sites and PR spin. If you, the PMA and their ilk have any science (independent, non industry funded research please) to refute the EWG please share it with us.

      As for “… guidance that’s based on government recommendations.” I consider that a warning label, not a vote of confidence.

  3. Matt

    Dave, The "outbreak" which you refer to Germany in 2011 had ZERO positive proof that it was an organic farm that caused the problems. Tests on the farm could not find ANY contamination. It is MORE likely that the sprouts were contaminted AFTER they left the farm. The outbreak of e-coli however would NOT be limited or more likely on an organic farm. It also has NOTHING to do with the dirty dozen list which deals with chemicals contaminents. Hence my reference to water with contaminents in them. I did NOT call the PMA or it's proposals a conspiracy theory. They are arguing that conventional produce is SAFE. Even the EWG admits that in it's first two paragraphs, that is IF you read the article. They then go on to state that the list is composed of those crops which have the "highest" levels of residual chemicals and suggests consumers seek sources with LESS contaminents. I find NOTHING wrong with this assertion. What problem do y ou have with a consumer who wants to have LESS potential contaminements in their food. Part of the problem is a few conventional producers who put product that exceeds the MRL into the marketplace are not punished by the FEDS and other regulatory agencies. This leads to a large drop in consumer trust in both government as a watchdog and in conventional producers being trusted. Organic agriculture by defintion uses LESS chemicals so it is easy to turn to. Look at the largest milk marketing board. They want the FDA to allow the addition of Aspartame to milk without listing it on the label. Actions like these paint ALL conventional producers with a very negative brush. Some consumers will just abandone conventional products. My father ALWAYS poo-poo's organic and local producers until he read about that in the newspaper. They now only buy organic milk and I have seen other organic produce showing up in their home, at least until our own produce is in season. Trust in an industry takes a LONG time to establish and very little time to destroy.