A study from the University of California has found that food produce washes are not as effective as they claim. Residues, it seems, can be more effectively washed off with normal water.
The study looked to see if produce washes were more effective in removing pesticide residues than water. "Since we knew that water is effective in removing pesticide residues, it seemed very unlikely that produce washes would be as effective as they advertise," said Dr Robert Krieger, who headed up the research.
Full details of the study will be published in the February 2003 edition of Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.
In the first part of the study, crops that had been normally treated with captan were separated into three groups. The first group was rinsed with water, the second with water and produce wash, and the third was not rinsed. The unrinsed produce had a residue level of 6.7 parts per million. The group that was rinsed with water had a residue level of 4.1 parts per million, 39 per cent less than the unrinsed group. The group that was rinsed with water and produce wash had a residue level of 3.7 parts per million, 45 per cent less than the unrinsed group.
In the second part of the study, fruit that had been treated in the field with a tank mix of captan on methomyl were separated and treated as in the first part of the study. The fruit that was unrinsed had a residue level of 0.52 for captan and 0.87 for methomyl. The fruit that was rinsed with water had a residue level of 0.10 for captan and 0.71 for methomyl, 81 per cent and 18 per cent less than the unrinsed fruit respectively. The fruit that was rinsed with water and produce wash has a residue level of 0.053 for captan and 0.53 for methomyl, 90 per cent and 39 per cent less than the unrinsed fruit respectively.
The claims that produce washes are much more effective than water is not supported by this study. "These results claim that they are misleading a public that is already overly concerned about pesticide residues," said Dr Krieger. "Clearly, this study shows that there is no reason to spend extra money on these washes when water is just as effective."Dr Krieger also stressed that all of these residue levels are well below federal standards. "All residue levels were well within the EPA levels and far below levels that could cause adverse health effects in rats or humans," he said. "These studies simply reaffirm the effectiveness of water for trace pesticide residue reduction. In no case were residues of health significance."
To obtain a copy of the study, call Monica Hecht at + 001 310 446-1827. Dr. Krieger may be reached at + 001 909 787-3724.