Opinion: North American Blueberry Council’s response to Consumer Reports

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Opinion: North American Blueberry Council’s response to Consumer Reports

By Kasey Cronquist, U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council and North American Blueberry Council President.

As many of you have heard, unfortunately (and once again), blueberries have been included on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) annual “Dirty Dozen” list. The list was published on their website:


Additionally, Consumer Reports has also published articles covering the USDA test results:

6 Fruits and Vegetables Loaded With Pesticides

Produce Without Pesticides

AFF has also been proactively engaged with Consumer Reports on their reporting and is quoted saying:

“The Alliance for Food and Farming, a farming industry organization, pointed out to CR that more than 99 percent of foods tested by the USDA contained pesticide residues below the EPA’s legal limits (referred to as tolerances).”

Teresa Thorne and her team do a great job providing our industry with the first line of defense during this annual routine by EWG.

While we will closely monitor traditional and social media coverage and conversation tied to the coverage, the NABC does not plan to proactively respond to it for a few reasons:

  • We are a part of the Alliance for Food and Farming to have them take the lead in moments like this to represent the entire agriculture industry in responding to the media.
  • It is not our industry’s story to own. Other fruits and vegetables, as always, are targeted.
  • We do not want to feed the story or give it undue credibility.
  • It is old, recycled news that surfaces every spring. In today’s news environment, we would anticipate coverage to spike momentarily and then dissipate quickly.

If we do feel the need to respond reactively to consumers, industry partners, or the media, we will do so using the reactive statement below:

Consumers should always be on the lookout for urban legends, false agendas and unintentional misinformation that discourages fresh produce consumption. There is a wealth of scientific data showing fresh fruit, berries and vegetables improve lives through better diets and nutrition and additional research shows we are not eating nearly enough.

It is unfortunate that farmers must respond to this annual misinformation fear campaign from the Environmental Working Group that is widely criticized for having poor methodology and misleading messages. All the evidence points to the fact that the benefits of a diet rich in fruits, berries and vegetables far exceeds the dangers of minute levels of pesticides.That is why the Alliance for Food and Farming has called for discontinuing the list.

Consumers who want to learn more about how low residues are, if present at all, can use the pesticide residue calculator at safefruitsandveggies.com. The calculator is based upon an analysis by toxicologists with the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure Program. The analysis found a child could eat hundreds to thousands of servings of a fruit or vegetable in a day and still not have any health impacts from residues.

It is always best for the industry to speak with a unified voice on matters like this. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, do not hesitate to reach out.

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