FDA says 59% of US foods tested contain pesticide residues

Pesticide residues were detected in 59% of US food samples tested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its most recently completed annual testing program, the agency revealed in a new report.

Roughly 77% of domestic fruits, 60% of US vegetables and about 53% of US grains sampled showed residues.

The agency said overall it analyzed 2,078 human food samples, finding that 51.6% of imported foods contained pesticide residues compared to 59.2% of domestic US foods.

It is common for conventional farmers to use a range of pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides on their fields, and sometimes apply the chemicals directly onto their crops, as a means to fight weeds, bugs and plant diseases. Residues of these chemicals are found not only in food but often in drinking water as well.

Both the FDA and the US Department of Agriculture have been tracking levels of pesticide residues in foods for decades, reporting their findings annually.

The FDA said its 2020 sampling was reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic. It did not include US milk or dairy products this year in its sampling. The FDA said 84% of the samples for this report were imported from other countries. The new report is for the fiscal year 2020 but was just finalized and released this month.