The Alliance for Food and Farming launched a new system designed to help the produce industry respond to negative media reports regarding pesticide residues on produce.

The system is part of the organization’s Safe Fruits and Veggies initiative, which promotes consumption of all fruits and vegetables by providing credible, science-based information to ease common fears about pesticide residues on produce.

“Consumer research indicates that about 60 percent of consumers express a high level of concern about pesticide residues on their food, most of which is based on misleading information they see in the media and on the Internet,” said Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming.  “People are making purchasing decisions based on this information, so it is important for the produce industry to correct misinformation in the media whenever we can.”

According to the Alliance, the goal of this new system is to encourage multiple responses to media reports to help set the record straight about the health benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables whether they are organic or conventional.

The alerts will be sent via e-mail to interested produce industry members when a story with incorrect or misleading information appears in a media outlet or social media site.  The e-mail will summarize the article; link to the story or the full report; explain what the Alliance has done in response and provide instructions on how others can submit their own responses.

“The Alliance regularly responds to erroneous media reports on a number of food safety topics,” said the Alliance’s Teresa Thorne, who explained the Alliance often works with other produce trade associations to craft a joint response.  “We are finding that one response to a media report does not generate enough attention anymore.  Social media has enhanced the dialog on the topic of pesticide residues, but it is usually a very one-sided debate.  What we need is a number of farmers and others in the produce industry to present an alternative view if we are insert more balance into the discussion.”

The Alliance for Food and Farming has also recently revised and updated its website at www.safefruitsandveggies.com.  This site serves as a resource on pesticide residues and contains easy-to-understand information developed by experts in food safety, toxicology, nutrition, risk analysis and farming.  An expert panel report conducted by six scientists is available on the website along with a residue calculator that helps consumers put the issue of pesticide residues in perspective.

The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization comprised of about 50 farmers and farming organizations throughout the U.S.  Alliance membership is based on voluntary contributions and the organization includes members who farm conventional and organic produce.

The industry alerts are available to any interested member of the produce industry.  To sign up to receive the e-mails, please send a message to info@foodandfarming.info  with the subject line “Sign Me Up.”