Fruit Leathers Contain Pesticides That Can Be Found: Report

According to a recent analysis from the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit group working to promote both human health and the environment, several types of fruit leathers, a popular kids’ snack, include measurable levels of pesticides. There are pesticide levels that can be detected in several dried fruit snacks.

In a paper titled “Fruit leather: A snack occasionally stuffed full of chemicals and sugar,” it made the findings public today.

The conclusion reached by the Environmental Working Group is that “fresh fruit is always going to be superior,” according to Sydney Evans, a science analyst for the organisation and a co-author of the paper. She argues that dried fruit snacks are preferable to fruit leathers for reducing pesticide exposure, and that organic foods are preferable to non-organic or conventional ones.

Others, though, panned the report. According to Teresa Thorne, executive director of the Alliance for Food and Farming, a nonprofit organisation that represents both conventional and organic farmers who cultivate fruits and vegetables, “this fear mongering needs to stop.” She claims that the amounts are well below the permitted standards.

Report specifics

In addition to 30 samples of dried fruits, another common travel snack, from 16 brands, the Environmental Working Group commissioned an independent lab to evaluate 37 samples of organic and non-organic fruit leathers from 10 brands. Fruit leathers are produced by dehydrating fruit purée into a lustrous layer with a texture similar to leather.

According to Evans, none of the tested samples exceeded the federally mandated tolerance limits for pesticides. However, the committee feels that those tolerance limits are excessive.

The Environmental Working Group, whose funding sources include organic food firms, discovered detectable quantities of pesticides in all 26 samples of the non-organic (conventional) fruit leathers examined and in half of the non-organic samples of dried fruit.

However, some of the tested organic items also included pesticide levels that were comparable to or higher than those of conventional products. For instance, the pesticide concentration in Trader Joe’s Organic Apple Strawberry Fruit Wrap was 247 parts per billion (ppb), compared to 106 ppb in Bob Snail Apple-Strawberry Stripe, a conventional product.

Stretch Island Raspberry Fruit Leather has the highest pesticide content of any leather tested, with 17 in one sample. The samples from That’s It, Stretch Island, and Trader Joe’s had, on average, the highest total concentration of pesticides when the researchers examined the overall amount of pesticides, also known as total pesticide concentration.

The insecticide acetamiprid and the fungicides pyrimethanil, fludioxonil, and thiabendazole were the most often discovered pesticides. In addition to other issues, pesticide exposure has been related to cancer, hormone disruption, impacts on the brain and reproductive systems, and birth defects.

If given the choice between fresh fruit, fruit leathers, and dried fruit, Evans concludes, “For me, the takeaway is [that] fresh fruit is always going to be superior.” She advises avoiding fruit leathers in favour of dried fruit snacks if that isn’t an option. According to an analysis of 30 dried fruit items by the Environmental Working Group, conventionally cultivated dried cranberries, dates, figs, mangoes, and prunes had undetectable levels of pesticides, whereas raisins and dried strawberries, cherries, and apples had the highest quantities.

According to Evans, the fruit strips with the greatest pesticide concentrations frequently featured apples as the initial component. On the “Dirty Dozen” list for 2022, which ranks the food with the most pesticides used each year, apples are ranked No. 5.

According to the organisation, the process of dehydrating fruit to create fruit leathers “dramatically increases the concentration of natural sugar the snack contains,” adding that a similar-sized portion of fresh fruit would have much less sugar. It also advises staying away from fruit leathers and dried fruit that has sugar added as well as additives like flavour enhancers, food dye, and corn syrup.

Federal Rules of Law

For pesticide residues on foods, the Environmental Protection Agency establishes tolerance levels. A national pesticide residue monitoring programme, the Pesticide Data Program is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Alternative Views

Kaci Buhl, an associate professor and the head of the Pesticide Safety Education Program at Oregon State University Extension, Corvallis, who examined the research for WebMD, states that nothing they discovered is new.

The results also don’t back up recommendations to completely avoid fruit leathers, according to her.

As long as fruit leathers are consumed in moderation as part of a varied and balanced diet, Buhl advises parents not to be alarmed. (She points out that even organic vegetables uses pesticides to grow.)

Others called attention to what they perceived as errors in the computations. The total pesticide content in a That’s It Blueberry Fruit Bar, which weighs 35 grammes (1.2 ounces), was determined to be 3,541 ppb, while the Mini Blueberry Fruit Bar, which weighs 20 grammes (0.7 ounces) and contains the same ingredients, had a total pesticide concentration of 89.

According to Buhl, the fruit leather and dried fruit snacks are especially useful for people who live far from a grocery store and run out of fresh fruit.

Thorne asserts that we must stop scaring people away from the foods they enjoy, particularly when those foods are wholesome ones like fruits and vegetables.

A youngster may take 340 servings of apples per day, according to the alliance’s pesticide calculator, without experiencing any negative effects from pesticides, “even if the apple has the highest pesticide residue reported for apple by the USDA.”

Companies were contacted by WebMD for comments. That’s It chose not to remark, and Stretch Island did not answer.

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