Pesticides

Alternative names 
Pesticides and food

Definition
Pesticides are substances which protect plants against molds, fungi, and insects; therefore, decreasing the percent of crop loss for harvest and potential illness. This helps control shortages, higher prices, income loss, and prevents unappealing blemishes.

Most pesticides are produced by plants naturally to ward off their predators. The amount of man-made pesticides applied and their residue allowed to remain on products at market are regulated and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Overall, most experts agree the U.S. has a safe food supply. Allowed pesticides are very low on the list of risks hazardous to health. Large scale studies suggest that pesticide residues are unlikely to be an important risk factor for cancer to the general public. Major risk factors include; Smoking, alcohol consumption, asbestos, several occupational chemicals, hormonal, and dietary imbalances.

Recommendations
To minimize pesticide exposure:

     
  • Wash your hands before you prepare or eat foods. Neglecting this habit is one of the greatest threats to food safety.  
  • Avoid raw eggs, raw oysters, or raw fish.  
  • Wash all produce thoroughly with cold water.  
  • Eat a low-fat diet and maintain a healthy weight. Toxins are often stored in the body’s fat cells.  
  • Eat a variety of foods in moderation.  
  • Cook meats and poultry thoroughly. Assume they are contaminated with bacteria. Wash hands and cutting surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water immediately after preparation.  
  • If you wish to buy organically grown foods, look for certification by Organic Growers Associations.

 

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, M.D.

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