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Latino Daily News

Monday June 6, 2011

Tests on Cilantro Revealed Over 30 Unapproved Pesticides

Tests on Cilantro Revealed Over 30 Unapproved Pesticides

Photo: Tests on Cilantro Revealed Over 30 Unapproved Pesticides

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In federal tests of cilantro, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found 34 unapproved pesticides on the herb, results that surprised even them.

Cilantro is a popular ingredient in salsa and guacamole – among other dishes – and becomes even more widely used come summer time.

USDA chemist, Chris Pappas, who oversaw the Virginia-based testing said,” We are not really sure why the cilantro came up with these residues,” but researchers suspect growers may have mixed up the guidelines for flat-leaf parsley, as more pesticides have been approved for the parsley.

Of the 184 samples tested in 2009, 94 percent had traces of at least one pesticide, and 44 percent of cilantro tested recently had residue of at least one unapproved pesticide. Pesticide analyst Chris Campbell said that number is “higher than I have ever seen” in over 10 years.

The pesticides were not removed upon washing the cilantro, and the mere presence of it has both regulators and industry leaders worried.

“I can assure you that some of these will be followed up,” said FDA food safety specialist Ronald Roy. “When we have a clustering of non-permitted residues around a certain (crop) or with a certain grower, then we investigate to find the cause and correct the specific problem so that it doesn’t continue.”

Kathy Means, vice president of the Produce Marketing Association, also said, “It’s something we need to look into. We need to determine: Why this year, why this crop? What’s going on? ... There aren’t that many cilantro suppliers. And so if you have a problem with one supplier, percentagewise (contamination) may be higher.”

Of all the cilantro tested, 81 percent was grown in the U.S. and 17 percent were imported. The remaining 2 percent was from unknown origin.