Poisoned Fruit

Following is an excerpt of a new report by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food.

The Poisoned Fruit of American Trade Policy

Produce Imports Overwhelm American Farmers and Consumers

Americans are consuming more imported fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen and canned produce, and fruit juice than ever before.  An examination of U.S. consumption of produce that is commonly eaten as well as grown in America found that over the past 15 years Americans’ consumption of imported fresh fruits and vegetables doubled, but border inspection has not kept pace with rising imports, and less than one percent of the imported produce is inspected by the federal government. 

 

Food & Water Watch studied fifty common fruit and vegetable products like fresh apples, frozen broccoli, fresh tomatoes, orange juice and frozen potatoes and found that:

Imports made up one out of ten fresh fruits and one out of nine fresh vegetables Americans ate in 1993 (10.1 and 11.7 percent, respectively) but by 2007 the import consumption share doubled to more than one out of five fresh fruits and fresh vegetables (22.3 percent of fresh fruit and 23.9 percent of fresh vegetables). 

The share of imported processed (canned or frozen) produce tripled, from 5.2 percent of frozen packages or cans in 1993 to 15.9 percent in 2007. 

The share of imported fruit juice (orange, apple and grape) grew by 61 percent, from about a third of American consumption (30.8 percent) in 1993 to about half of consumption (49.5 percent) in 2007. 

On average, each American consumed 20 pounds of imported fresh fruit, 31 pounds of imported fresh vegetables and 24 pounds of imported processed produce and drank three gallons of imported juice in 2007.

Imports of fresh fruits (except bananas), fresh vegetables and processed produce essentially tripled, rising from 10 billion pounds in 1990 to 30 billion pounds in 2007.

Imported produce was more than three times more likely to contain the illness-causing bacteria Salmonella and Shigella than domestic produce, according to the latest FDA survey of imported and domestic produce.

Imported fruit is four times more likely to have illegal levels of pesticides and imported vegetables are twice as likely to have illegal levels of pesticide residues as domestic fruits and vegetables.

The hidden dangers on imported fruits and vegetables can enter U.S. supermarkets because the FDA inspects only the tiniest fraction of imported produce. Less than one percent of imported fresh produce shipments were inspected at the border in recent years.

To see the full report, go to: www.foodandwaterwatch.org/food/imports/the-poisoned-fruit-of-american-trade-policy

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