USDA: Cilantro Loaded With Unapproved Pesticides

USDA finds 34 chemicals not approved for herb in sample batch
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2011 11:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – Your salsa might have an extra kick for a different reason: The USDA tested a batch of cilantro and found traces of 34 pesticides unapproved for the herb, reports the Chicago Tribune. Nearly half of the cilantro samples tested, about 80% of which were grown in the US, came up positive for at least one unsanctioned chemical. One possible theory: Growers confused the rules for cilantro with those for flat-leaf parsley, which allows more pesticides. (Feel better?)

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Food safety officials promise to investigate but offer reasons not to panic: The residues were miniscule, and people generally don't scarf down cilantro by the pound anyway. Still, the industry wants to avoid an image problem, especially considering the FDA sent out a rare "guidance letter" to growers in March warning of salmonella in cilantro. "We need to be sure our food safety protocols are up to snuff and listen to FDA and see what it suggests," says a produce industry executive. (Read more cilantro stories.)

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