September 15, 2022 – Many brands of fruit leathers, a popular for children to taste, have detectable levels of pesticides, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization aimed at improving human health and the environment. Many dried fruit snacks also contain detectable levels of pesticides.
He published the results today in a report, “Fruit leather: a snack sometimes full of pesticides and sugar.”
Conclusion of the environmental working group: “Fresh fruit will always be better,” says Sydney Evans, scientific analyst for the group and co-author of the report. To minimize exposure to pesticides, dried fruit snacks are better than fruit leathers, she says, and organic produce is better than non-organic or conventional produce.
But others blasted the report. “This campaign of fear must stop,” says Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a nonprofit representing organic and conventional farmers who grow fruits and vegetables. The levels found, she says, are well below standards deemed acceptable.
The Environmental Working Group commissioned an independent lab to test 37 samples of organic and non-organic fruit leathers from 10 brands, as well as 30 samples of dried fruit, another popular on-the-go product. to taste, of 16 brands. (Fruit leathers are made by dehydrating fruit puree into a shiny sheet with a leather-like texture.)
None of the samples tested were above the tolerance levels set by the federal government for pesticides, Evans says. But the group believes that these tolerance levels are too high.
According to the Environmental Working Group, whose funding sources include organic food companies.
But some of the organic products assessed also had similar or higher levels of pesticides than those found in conventional products. For example, Trader Joe’s Organic Apple-Strawberry Fruit Wrap had 247 parts per billion (ppb) of pesticide concentration, while Bob Snail Apple-Strawberry Stripe, a conventional product, had 106 ppb.
A sample of Stretch Island raspberry fruit leather contained 17 pesticides, the most of any leather tested. When the researchers looked at the total amount of pesticides, also known as the total pesticide concentration, samples from That’s It, Stretch Island and Trader Joe’s had the highest total concentration on average.
The most common pesticides were the fungicides pyrimethanil, fludioxonil and thiabendazole, and the insecticide acetamiprid. Exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancer, hormonal disruption, reproduction and the nervous system side effects and birth defects, among other problems.
“To me, takeout is [that] fresh fruit will always be better” if given a choice between that, fruit leathers and dried fruit, says Evans. If that’s not an option, she recommends choosing dried fruit snacks over fruit leathers. The Environmental Working Group’s assessment of 30 conventionally grown dried found dried fruit products cranberriesdates, figs, mangoes and prunes had undetectable pesticide levels, while the highest levels were found on raisins and dried strawberries, cherries and apples.
The fruit strips with the highest levels of pesticides often had apples as the first ingredient, Evans says. The apples are #5 on the 2022 “Dirty Dozen” list, the annual ranking of fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides produced by the group.
The process of dehydrating fruit to make fruit leathers “also dramatically increases the concentration of sugar the snack contains,” the band says, resulting in a lot more sugar a serving of fresh fruit of similar size would have. He also recommends avoiding fruit leathers and dried fruits with added sugar and additives such as flavor enhancers, food colorings and corn syrup.
The Environmental Protection Agency establishes tolerance levels for pesticide residues on food. The United States Department of Agriculture Pesticide Data Program is a national pesticide residue monitoring program.
“Nothing they found is surprising,” says Kaci Buhl, associate professor and director of the Pesticide Safety Education Program at Oregon State University Extension, Corvallis, who reviewed the report for WebMD.
The results also don’t support the advice to avoid fruit leathers altogether, she says.
“Parents shouldn’t worry as long as fruit leathers are eaten in moderation as part of a varied and balanced diet,” Buhl says. (Organic produce is also grown with pesticides, she notes.)
Others pointed out what they saw as discrepancies in the calculations. For example, a That’s It Blueberry fruit bar, which weighs 35 grams (1.2 ounces), was found to have a total pesticide concentration of 3,541 ppb, while its mini Blueberry fruit bar, at 20 grams ( 0.7 ounce), with the same ingredients, had a total pesticide concentration of 89.
Leather and dried fruit snacks are especially handy when those who live far from a food market are short on fresh fruit, Buhl says.
“We need to stop scaring people away from the foods they enjoy, especially when it comes to healthy foods like fruits and vegetablessays Thorne.
About the covenant the consumer information site, his pesticide calculator estimates a child could eat 340 servings per day of apple without harmful effects of pesticides “even if the apple has the highest level of pesticide residues recorded for apple by the USDA”.
WebMD has reached out to the companies for comment. Stretch Island did not respond, and That’s It declined to comment on the findings.