Importers Fined for Selling Produce with Illegal Pesticide Residues
The California Department of Pesticide Regulation recently fined six companies for ignoring warnings and repeatedly selling imported fruits and vegetables with illegal pesticide residues to predominantly ethnic minority customers. The fines range from $10,000 to more than $20,000 for violating pesticide laws and potentially endangering consumers. The produce at issue was imported from Thailand, Taiwan, China and Mexico.
DPR conducts statewide inspections of farmers markets, chain stores, distribution centers and other sellers as part of its Residue Monitoring Program, under which it randomly selects and tests fruits and vegetables to ensure they do not contain pesticide residues higher than the trace levels legally allowed. Since 2013 DPR has repeatedly found imported produce for sale in California that exceeds U.S. pesticide limits and traced this tainted produce back to these six import companies. In each case DPR warned the importers about the risk of selling such produce in California, but subsequent investigations showed that the companies continued to import produce from the same suspect sources and sell the tainted food in California. When illegal pesticide residues were found, DPR immediately ordered the produce destroyed and/or quarantined.