In The News: Unapproved Pesticide Residue Found on Cilantro

| 6/1/2011 12:03:28 PM

L.HoltThe Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday that a recent examination by USDA officials revealed that commercial cilantro samples hold traces of at least 34 pesticides that have not been approved for use on the herb. According to the Environmental Working Group, 44 percent of the samples showed residue of at least one pesticide. Approved pesticides were detected in quantities far over the approved limits. Some officials speculate that producers may have confused regulation for flat-leaf parsley with those for cilantro. (This does not make me feel any better.) In addition, cilantro growers received a letter from the FDA in March that warned of salmonella findings and urged producers to improve cilantro safety. 

 Commercial fresh cilantro may contain pesticide residues or traces of salmonella.
 Photo by Michael_Lehet/Courtesy Flickr

All in all, I am increasingly disappointed that my pot of cilantro drowned in all the rain we’ve been getting recently, especially since even organic cilantro can contain traces of DDT-descendent chemicals that still linger in the environment.  

The FDA is promising follow-up on these violations to determine why they are happening, and where. In the meantime, regulatory officials maintain that the presence of these pesticides is unlikely to be a health-risk. The pesticides in question are approved for use on other foods at certain levels, and people are unlikely to eat enough cilantro in one sitting to be adversely affected anyway. (Pregnant and nursing women may want to devote special attention to the issue, however, as the toxins in pesticides are most dangerous to infants.)

For more information about pesticides and food safety, the USDA has published a document entitles “What Consumers Should Know,” which includes information regarding the Pesticide Data Program.

Read More: USDA testing finds 30-plus unapproved pesticides on the herb cilantro - The Chicago Tribune

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