Antibiotics on Your Apples: What You Need to Know

By Dana Shultz for Diets In Review

Consumers were enraged this week after learning that farmers in the Washington State area have petitioned the USDA for continued use of a certain antibiotic on fruit trees. The petition took place at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Portland, Oregon, where the current conditional use was set to expire.

The antibiotic in question is oxytetracycline, which is used to fight fire blight in apple and pear trees. Fire blight, a contagious disease that primarily affects apples and pears, has been known to destroy an entire orchard in a single growing season.

While consumers dislike use of the antibiotic on organic crops – 35,000 signatures so far, to be exact – farmers contest that neglecting use of it could potentially put them out of business. If the movement to ban oxytetracycline took effect, many farmers involved in the petition threatened to leave the organic growing community.

Opponents of the antibiotic argue safety as their main concern, since the product used is the same material used to treat human illness. And although medical experts offer that antibiotics distributed by air blast sprayers over large plots of land are far more dangerous than how oxytetracycline is used, there is still valid concern when residue of the drug is being clearly found on “certified organic fruit.”

Use of oxytetracycline has been an area of contention for growers and consumers for years. The issue, however, went to vote earlier this week and played in favor of consumers. The NOSB voted to prohibit several non-organic and synthetic substances that are considered non essential to organic farming.

See a list of those substances along with more information about the dangers of antibiotic consumption at cornucopia.org.

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By Dana Shultz for Diets In Review

102 comments

Prima B.
PrimaAWAY B.2 years ago

The antibiotic in question is oxytetracycline, which is used to fight fire blight in apple and pear trees. Fire blight, a contagious disease that primarily affects apples and pears, has been known to destroy an entire orchard in a single growing season.

**I never knew that these were used on organic food but I have never even believed that organic is always truly pure..... With fruit I do peel off the skin on many of them like all apples for sure but you want the skin on many fruits and veggies for the vitamins/nutrients. I like my cucumbers with the skin on for one.

There are fruit washes thaat came out a lot in the 90's and I don't know how safe they are but I did use many of these washes that I actually received free for awhile. I was a coupon queen for 18 years that typically would go in a store , my order would be $500 and I would get back a couple bucks.
That is why I got them free after the first 2/3 sample packages. I don't trust anything in this world so we have to just take chances at somne point as cautiously as possible.

Val M.
Val M.3 years ago

Thanks for the info

B Jackson
BJ J.3 years ago

Hmmm, very recently there was an article on here about how apples may help prevent cancer. Now we have this article. . . . .

federico bortoletto

Grazie dell'articolo.

Elena B.
Elena Bonati3 years ago

Thanks for this interesting article.

Mm M.
MmAway M.3 years ago

I always wash all veggies period! Basic H from Shaklee is a great one all natural!

Heather M
Heather Marv3 years ago

sounds a bit complex. The problem I think is mainly that antibiotics have been used so discriminately that we all are wary of them. Obviously the apples need protection from blight etc. maybe they will find something more organic to help this problem.

Despina Vekris
Despina Vekris3 years ago

thank you

E. J.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks. I've peeled for years. I was told they were dangerous to eat during cancer therapy.

Victoria McFarlane
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks