Washed but still tainted still tainted

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 July, 1994, 12:00am

AREPORT on pesticides on fresh fruits and vegetables released recently said that washing and peeling does not remove residues of potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

The report was based on a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) analysis of residues on uncooked produce. The report was prepared by the Environmental Working Group, known for its widely publicised 1993 paper ''Pesticides in Children's Food''.

The latest report was disputed by the Produce Marketing Association and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which asserts the residues on the country's food supply are well within safe limits.

The report, titled ''Washed, Peeled - Contaminated'', states that washing and peeling does not significantly reduce the amount of pesticide residues on fresh fruits and vegetables. And it does not totally remove any of the chemicals, many of which are regulated because of their potential for causing cancer and other diseases.

The report, drawn from 1992 data gathered by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Pesticide Data Programme, found that at least 50 per cent of peaches, apples celery, potatoes, grapes, oranges, carrots and green beans contained at least one pesticide when prepared for eating.

Even 30 per cent of bananas that were peeled contained at least one chemical.

Although the residues fall within EPA safety guidelines, ''The EPA's standards for pesticides do not consider the existence of these multiple residues or the effect that they may have on young children,'' the report said.

However, representatives of the group stressed that the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables outweighed the risks of the pesticides. They called for phasing out of the most hazardous pesticides.

United Press International