Portland, OR (PRWEB) June 23, 2004
The start of the Pacific Northwest growing season will mean a bigger selection of NutriCleanÂ® certified pesticide residue free produce on grocery store shelves according to Scientific Certification Systems, an independent global certification organization. NutriClean, established in 1986 by Scientific Certification Systems, is the nationÂs first testing program to certify that fresh fruits and vegetables are free of pesticide residues.
NutriClean testing is performed on a field-by-field basis and rewards farmers for reducing pesticide use and eliminating pesticide residues on consumer products. Some Pacific Northwest growers are among a group of farmers worldwide who voluntarily participate in the NutriClean certification program. Their products reach Northwest consumers through grocery retailers like Fred Meyer.
"The NutriClean program validates the hard work we put in to growing our food, so we can eliminate pesticide residues on our final product," said Dave Pienovi, president of Fujii Produce, which represents Aurora Farms, located in Aurora, Oregon. "We've been involved in the NutriClean certification program since it began in the Pacific Northwest in the 1980s and feel it gives us another opportunity to connect with consumers, said Pienovi. Jim Siri of Siri and Son Farms, Clackamas, Oregon, added that "the sampling and testing program provides a good feedback mechanism to growers by measuring performance from year to year. It's helped improve our operation over time."
"Fred Meyer has participated in the NutriClean program for 16 years because we feel that offering our customers produce that has been independently tested and certified as free of pesticide residues is the right thing to do," said Mary Loftin, vice president of public affairs for Fred Meyer. "Offering NutriClean products along with organic and locally grown items, combined with a weekly testing program across our entire produce department, ensures that our customers receive the highest quality fruits and vegetables possible," said Loftin.
Apples, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, melons, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and more are routinely NutriClean certified. Some products like berries, nectarines, and peaches are harder to certify as pesticide residue free, but NutriClean's scientists continue to work with these growers to increase the availability of NutriClean-certified products.
"Consumers are increasingly less and less aware of how food is grown in this country and the challenges that farmers face," said Harry Hamada of Phi Tau Farms, located in Walla Walla, Washington. "The NutriClean program gives marketplace recognition to farmers who are taking exceptional measures to ensure that the food they produce meets a tough pesticide standard," said Hamada. Dale Hayton of Valley Pride Sales, Mt. Vernon, Washington added that, "farmers and produce suppliers are on the front lines of the debate for Americans to eat healthier and pesticide residue free produce is very important."
NUTRICLEAN PROGRAM DETAILS
The NutriClean program gives consumers access to affordably priced food that has been independently certified to meet pesticide residue free standards. These standards ensure food items entering the marketplace contain no residues at or above the laboratory limit of detection, which is 1000 times stricter than legally permitted pesticide residue levels.
To achieve certification, growers first disclose any pesticide use in their fields to NutriClean scientists. NutriClean samplers then visit the farmer's fields to obtain food samples before harvest for shipment to accredited labs, following tightly controlled custody procedures.
At the lab, the field samples are tested for hundreds of possible pesticide residues using government approved methods. If results confirm that all samples are pesticide residue free, the product is certified for sale under the NutriClean name. For multiple harvest crops like tomatoes, further testing is required to maintain certification.
If a field does not pass, the growers can continue to work with Scientific Certification Systems to pursue pest management regimes and growing practices to minimize potential future pesticide exposure and potential harm to human health and the environment.
RESIDUE FREE FOODS AND TODAY'S DIETS
Pesticides are consistently identified as the number one health concern of food shoppers. And recent scientific studies prove that limiting dietary pesticide intake can make real improvements in long-term health. A National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences study published by the University of Washington confirms it is especially important for childrenÂs health because fresh fruits and vegetables are considered a gateway to their pesticide exposure.
"Eating fruits and vegetables, especially those that are free of pesticide residues, is the cornerstone of a healthy body, capable of warding off both short and long-term illnesses," said Dr. Kenneth Weizer, Director of Complementary Medicine at Providence Integrative Medicine Cancer Clinics based in Portland.
"As Americans struggle with obesity and are confronted with various trendy diet schemes, fruits and vegetables continue to be one of the best foundations for a healthy lifestyle," said Kelly Streit, a registered dietician and nutrition educator based in Tualatin, Oregon. "I recommend NutriClean fruits and vegetables to my clients because I can trust that these products are free of pesticide residues," said Streit.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NUTRICLEAN AND ORGANIC
Both NutriClean produce and certified organic produce are good choices for reducing intake of pesticide residues. But there are notable differences between the two certifications:
- NutriClean certified fruits and vegetables are tested in a laboratory to verify there are no pesticide residues present in them - regardless of how they were grown.
- Certified organic is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program, and verified through accredited certifying agents (including Scientific Certification Systems), to ensure that food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. The National Organic Program neither requires nor encourages testing organic food for pesticide residues.
"The NutriClean program gives farmers scientific data to minimize pesticide use and employ less toxic, biological, cultural, and mechanical methods to control pests and disease," said Lenin Ovando, director of food and agricultural programs for Scientific Certification Systems. "For grocery retailers, we help them make informed procurement decisions so they can offer their customers affordable, clean food that meets tough standards," said Ovando.
SCS is a private company founded by scientists and leading practitioners, which is recognized internationally for its third-party evaluation and certification programs. Founded in 1984, SCS offers third-party certification services that span a wide cross-section of the economy including agricultural production, forestry, fisheries, energy, consumer products, manufacturing and retailing, and the home improvement and construction sectors. For more information about SCS, visit the companyÂs Web site at http://www.scscertified.com or call 800-829-1415.
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