Most consumers have always believed that organic fruit and vegetables are free of chemicals and pesticides. And now there's proof.
Australia's most comprehensive survey of its kind has shown that certified organic produce has virtually no chemical or pesticide residues. This is great news for people looking for clean, green and healthy foods, and who are seeking reassurance about the quality of organic fruit and vegetables.
Organic farmers have to meet stringent standards. The aim is to produce healthy food through a system of farming that doesn't use synthetic pesticides or fertilisers, while ensuring animal welfare and environmental sustainability.
In mid 2003, the Government of Victoria released results from the most comprehensive survey of its kind ever conducted on Australian organic produce. A total of 65 types of organically certified herbs, fruits and vegetables underwent an independent and statistically valid scrutiny for pesticide residues and other contaminants.
The survey, conducted according to international standards by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI), found that 100% of certified organic and biodynamic produce met national standards for residues and heavy metals in produce. In fact, more than 99% of tested produce showed no contamination at all from chemicals.
All samples conformed to the strict standards for acceptable levels of pesticide residues and heavy metals in food, set by Australia's national food safety authority, Food Standards Australia New Zealand.
The results provide assurance that organic and biodynamic produce is clean and uncontaminated. This is reassuring news for consumers who choose to eat organic fruit and vegetables because they want to minimise their dietary exposure to pesticides.
Three hundred samples of organically-certified fruits, vegetables, nuts, herbs and grains were collected from Victorian wholesale outlets - everything from apples to zucchinis. Samples were tested for pesticides and heavy metals which have potential to inadvertently contaminate produce. Not all of these chemicals are used routinely and several have long since been banned; but it is possible that they can still be contaminating soil on farms.
Overall, less than 1% of samples tested contained any chemical residues. Only two samples out of 300 had any residues, and these were at very low levels. The residues were traced to environmental contamination from historical practices; and once identified, the problems were addressed. This data also shows that organically-certified produce has fewer pesticide residues than conventional food crops.
These independent results show that the strict regime which must be followed by certified organic and biodynamic farmers pays off in reducing possible contamination.