What some ways to help reduce the risk of food poisoning from pesticides?

Image Credit: Frans Persoon / flickr

What are some ways to help reduce the risk of food poisoning from pesticides?

The article (Viral Food Poisoning from Pesticides?) raises issues, but what do you recommend we do as a response? e.g. I noted in the comments below one reader suggests a 10% vinegar solution. I myself do a vigorous wash of my veg before consumption. I think many would appreciate and benefit from what you regard as best practices for handling fresh veg to be consumed raw. 

James/ Originally posted in Viral Food Poisoning from Pesticides?


Dr. Greger’s video on Norovirus explains possible ways to reduce risk and how the contamination occurs in the first place.

From his “Doctor’s Note” under the video:

“When you hear of people getting infected with a stomach bug from something like spinach, it’s important to realize that the pathogen didn’t originate from the spinach. Intestinal bugs come from intestines. Greens don’t have guts; plants don’t poop. So the Salmonella in alfalfa sprout seeds (Don’t Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts) likely came from manure run-off or contaminated irrigation water. But this pesticide angle adds a whole new route for fecal pathogens to pollute produce. Broccoli Sprouts are safer, and organic sprouts may therefore be safer still. Organic foods may also be healthier (Cancer Fighting Berries) and don’t carry the potential chemical hazards associated with pesticides.”

I think the best we can do is wash our fruits and veggies well and try to eat organic when possible. There doesn’t seem to be a difference rinsing or soaking with cold water vs. vinegar. What about salt-water? Check out Dr. Greger’s video on “How to Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash.” 

I understand this won’t solve outbreak concerns 100%, but it may be a step in the right direction regarding a solution. If folks have the ability to grow a few indoor/outdoor house crops, or find the time to raise some veggies in a Community Garden, that could provide a healthful and beneficial way to know exactly what’s your soil and water. This may reduce contamination risks even further.

Image credit/Frans Persoon via flickr


5 responses to “What are some ways to help reduce the risk of food poisoning from pesticides?

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  1. Hello Everyone,
    I would like to ask the Doctors about absorption of the chemicals (used by farming industry
    to feed and protect plants) in fruit & vegetables.
    Being on the vegetarian diet, don’t we over-pollute our bodies with pesticides (or other
    chemicals) which are absorbed?
    Not all people can afford to buy food from organic shops only due to its higher cost (I think
    this is the case in most countries), and people who live in the cities cannot grow their own veggies.
    Could you please comment on that?
    Sorry if this, or similar, question has already been asked/answered before, I couldn’t find it
    using the search option.
    Thank you!

    1. Bela: It is a good question and one that lots of people share. The answer is that however much plant products are contaminated, as a group, animal products are more contaminated. The reason for this is a well known and completely uncontested/non-controversial biological phenomenon known as bioaccumulation. Bioaccumulation means that toxins concentrate the higher up you move in the food chain. Animals eat plants. Certain toxins in plants get embedded in the flesh of the animals and build up there.
      You can’t escape animal contamination completely even for animals raised a certain way. For example, they have found pesticides that have been banned for years in the flesh of wild salmon in Alaska or something. (I couldn’t find this video or article, I’m pretty sure I saw it here on NutritionFacts.)
      Dr. Greger discusses the concept of bioaccumulation in several videos and blog posts. Here is just one such page as an example: http://nutritionfacts.org/2015/04/28/how-to-reduce-exposure-to-alkylphenols-through-your-diet/ Dr. Greger also has many, many, many pages discussing how contaminated meat, dairy and eggs are.
      The good news is that if you eat low on the food chain (plants as opposed to animals), you expose yourself to less toxins and contaminations, even if you can’t afford organic. Here is a great post that puts it all into perspective: http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/ :
      “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks. Having said that, why risk any bump at all? That’s one of the reasons I encourage everyone to choose organic whenever one can, but we should never let concern about pesticides lower our fruit and vegetable consumption.”
      Does that make sense? What do you think now?

      1. Hi Thea

        Thank you very much for the detailed answer and links provided. It all makes sense.

        However, I still wouldn’t consider animal products as the main factor for cancer and other illnesses/conditions. I see it as a possible contributing factor. There are so many other reasons for cancer to be taken in account, i.e. stress, inherited genetics, chemical & nuclear contamination of the whole environment we live in (less and less natural materials around), bad habits (smocking & alcohol), lack of physical activity, which results in bad metabolism and inability for our bodies to release toxins, etc, etc.

        As far as I understand, even vegans will have some accumulated toxins in their bodies as a natural product of human metabolism. Therefore I think it would be very helpful if the NutritionFacts site provides some info on the ways of detoxication which can be practised in our today’s busy life (i.e. Herbert Shelton, Paul Bragg, Norman Walker, Dr.Nikolaev, Lidia Kovacheva, just to name a few which I know about).

        Dr. Greger may have other, scientifically proved suggestions, info, video, facts on the detoxication. It would be interesting to find out if there are any recent researches on it.

        Many thanks.

        With the best wishes and kind regards,


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