CDPR report: 97% of fruits and vegetables tested in California are free of illegal pesticide residues

May 16, 2024 SACRAMENTO, CA – Newly released data from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) shows that 97% of fresh fruit and vegetable samples collected and tested do not contain illegal pesticide residues.

The department’s 2022 Annual California Pesticide Residue Monitoring Report includes information on 3,281 agricultural product samples collected from more than 500 businesses across California.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 97% of the fresh produce tested had no detectable pesticide residues or had residues below health protection thresholds established by the federal government.
  • 37% of all samples collected had no detectable pesticide residues, while another 60% had residues below federal benchmarks. Only 3% of all samples had illegal residue levels.
  • Only 1% of the products grown in the country sampled and analyzed contained illegal residues.
  • No illegal residues were found in 78 types of products analyzed, including consumer products such as avocados and apples.
  • Of the illegal waste found, 82% were found in imported products.

DPR samples produce products from wholesale and retail outlets, distribution centers, and farmers’ and roadside markets. Samples include imported and locally grown products that have been grown both organically and conventionally. When illegal detections are found, the department traces the product back to the store, distributor and farmer. Products with illegal detections are quarantined and may be destroyed to prevent further distribution of contaminated products.

The samples are analyzed by scientists at the California Department of Food and Agriculture laboratories and tested for 500 types of pesticides and related compounds. The test is performed on unwashed and unpeeled produce. It is illegal to sell amounts of residue greater than limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These limits are called “tolerances” and are set for specific pesticides found on specific crops.

Violators may face fines or other sanctions. In one case, results found through DPR monitoring led to a $10,000 fine imposed by the Kern County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office for the illegal use of multiple pesticides on strawberries.

When collecting product samples, special emphasis is given to the types of products commonly consumed by children. The department also prioritizes product varieties with a history of illegal pesticide residues, products originating from countries with past illegal residue detections, and products often treated with pesticides listed in Proposition 65 as carcinogens or reproductive toxins.

Visit our website to learn more about DPR’s food waste monitoring program and to view previous reports.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation protects human health and the environment by promoting sustainable pest management and conducting a robust regulatory program.

DPR’s work includes conducting scientific evaluations of pesticides to evaluate and mitigate potential harm to human health or the environment before and after registration, registering all pesticides before they are sold or used in California, monitoring pesticides in the air and water and enforce pesticide laws. and regulations in coordination with 55 county agricultural commissioners and their combined 500 field inspectors in the state’s 58 counties. DPR invests in innovative research, outreach and education to encourage the development and adoption of integrated pest management tools and practices and conducts outreach activities to ensure that pesticide workers, farmworkers and local communities have access to information about pesticide safety. More information about the DPR.

Craig Cassidy, information officer
(916) 207-1099 | [email protected]