Is Fruit Safe For Kids?

To stay healthy, Americans are supposed to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. But a study in the next issue of Consumer Reports is warning that even one serving of some produce can endanger children if it is laden with high levels of pesticide residue, reports CBS News Correspondent Jacqueline Adams.

Nancy Metcalf, associate editor of Consumer Reports says "Children are not just little adults. Kids, because they are smaller, can eat the same amount of food and get per pound of body weight a much higher dose of pesticides."

All the pesticide levels in the study fell within legal limits, but analysts computed that what they called unsafe toxicity scores for kids in apples, grapes, green beans, peaches, pears, spinach and winter squash.

Two out of five children who eat a U.S. grown peach, they say, will get too much of the pesticide methyl parathion.

Dr. Edward Groth of the Consumers Union says "It might affect puberty. It might affect fertility. It might affect any number of factors that are regulated by the body's hormonal system."

Dr. Groth today coupled his study with a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking that certain pesticides be banned or restricted. The EPA is currently weighing the pesticide risk to children, but insists that America's food supply is still the safest in the world.

Some food analysts warn that children face an even greater danger in snacking on high fat, highly sugared food. Debbie Calvo of the Alliance for Food and Fiber says, "If somebody reads this and they get concerned and they go to other foods and ignore fruits and vegetables in their diets, I think, that is a real risk."

Both the EPA and Consumer Reports say parents need not worry. Careful washing and peeling of fruit can all but eliminate the pesticide risk, as can eating canned or organic fruit.