In late October, the alliance added the calculator tool to a new website, www.safefruitsandveggies.com. Robert Krieger, who heads the Personal Chemical Exposure Program at the University of California-Riverside, developed the tool in cooperation with the alliance, Dolan said.
Consumers can download the app or use it on the website, and customize options for man, woman, teen or child. The calculator determines how many servings per day can be consumed without any effect, even if the commodity has the highest pesticide residue ever recorded by the USDA for the produce item.
Celery is ranked No. 1 on this yearâs Dirty Dozen. The websiteâs calculator concludes that a man could consume 133,951 celery servings in a day with no ill effects.
Other information on the website challenges the environmental groupâs findings, including a report from a nationwide panel of toxicologists, risk assessors and nutritionists. After a yearâs work, Dolan said the panel concluded that the list:
â¢ is misleading;
â¢ impedes public health, because it discourages consumption of fresh produce; and
â¢ lacks scientific evidence that the reported pesticide levels pose any risk.
âUnlike the Environmental Working Group, all of our reports are peer-reviewed,â Dolan said. âWeâre asking EWG to do the same.â
Transparency is imperative for consumers to make educated buying decisions, she said. News media coverage of the Dirty Dozen and other claims have reduced the publicâs consumption of fresh produce, Dolan said.
A 2008 alliance survey found that 17% of consumers had stopped buying or limited their buying of fresh produce because of concerns over pesticide residues. The publicâs concerns are growing, Dolan said.
A recent survey by The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash., found the segment of shoppers who had stopped buying or decreased purchases of fresh produce because of concerns of pesticide residues has climbed to 29%, she said.
The Alliance for Food & Farming plans to ramp up efforts in the future, helped in part by a $180,000 specialty crop program grant from the USDA. It has, Dolan said, mapped a three-year campaign that includes featuring individual growers, a professional spokesperson, more social media and outreach to health experts and organizations, such as the American Dietetic Association.