Will washing fruit and vegetables get rid of pesticides?

Carleton University faculty and staff experts answer life’s perplexing questions. Summer always offers a wider selection of fruits and vegetables, Adjunct Professor Jim Lawrence and course graduate Thea Rawn answer the question:

Will washing fruit and vegetables get rid of pesticides?

Washing fruit and vegetables will remove many surface pesticides. Some pesticides can be removed by rinsing thoroughly with water. However, other compounds may require washing with detergent. Some fruit and vegetables are easier to wash than others due to factors such as its shape or consistency. It is important to recognize that some of the pesticides are only present on the surface, while others are contained in the flesh of the fruit as the consequence of using systemic pesticides. For the removal of some compounds i.e. organochlorine pesticides), peeling off the skin would be a better method of avoiding pesticides. However this may result in the loss of valuable vitamins in the fruit or vegetable. Compounds that are present within the food itself would not be removed through washing. In general, pesticide levels in fruit and vegetables are well below the maximum residue limit (MRL) established by Health Canada in the Food and Drug Regulations. Canada continues to enjoy one of the safest food systems in the world.

Adjunct Professor Jim Lawrence’s course looks at trace residue analysis of pesticides, PCBs, and dioxins. Thea Rawn, is currently a Research Scientist in the Food Research Division, Bureau of Chemical Canada. Her work focusses on pesticide residues in different foods.

From – http://www.now.carleton.ca/2003-06/96.htm

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