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Pesticides in food, exposure in the standard American diet- 80 percent from meat

by Milos Pokimica ND

by Milos Pokimica ND

Learn About Nutrition

"More than 80 percent of pesticides in food exposure in the standard American diet comes from animal products, not from fruits or vegetables."

The agricultural revolution had led to the rise of the human population, and that is not something that can change no matter how much we encourage environment-friendly solutions. One thing, and maybe the only thing we are able to do is to lower our exposure to pollution by going organic and going low on a food chain as much as possible.

Most of the pesticides in food and especially heavy metals and other toxic waste pollutants we get, we get from meat.

Biomagnification in the food chain
Biomagnification in the food chain

There is a misconception that when we clean or wash pesticides from plants we lower our exposure. Most of the pesticide deposits cannot be removed by washing. They are mostly made on an oily base so that rain won’t wash them off. Correct numbers are just a couple of percent overall. Washing the apple removes around 15%, and peeling removes around 85% but also removes most of the nutrition in the peal. If you do not eat organic and most of us do not, then do wash and scrub all produce thoroughly under running water. When you soak, there is no abrasive effect that running water provide. Running water will help remove bacteria (some of them may come from animal feces and be dangerous). There are also toxic chemicals on the surface of fruits and vegetables and dirt from crevices.

However, the real truth is that more than 80 percent of pesticides in food exposure in the standard American diet comes from animal products, not from fruits or vegetables.

I do not mean just fish with DDT and mercury accumulation from the ocean. Regular animal fat on farms accumulates toxins in the same manner. Cows, pigs, sheep, and chickens are held in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions that exist on factory farms. To prevent pest infestation, they are directly sprayed with pesticides. Also, they are exposed to a large number of crop pesticides through their food. Animal feed sprayed with pesticides represent the primary source of exposure from pesticides in food. Somehow we forget that all or most of the food that goes to animal feed are sprayed too. This is somehow not angulated by most people. By the estimates of the Environmental Working Group, every year in the U.S. around 167 million pounds of pesticides are just used to grow animal feed. These pesticides are eaten, and then they accumulate in animals. Pesticides are fat-soluble substances so every single gram will be assimilated into the adipose tissue of the animals and will end up in our plate eventually. This can be allowed because there is no restriction in legal terms for pesticides used in animal feed. For instance, the most commonly used pesticide in the world is glyphosate. Legally, residues that are allowed in animal feed are more than 100 times then what is allowed on grains consumed directly by humans. What is even worse is that animals eat enormous amounts of feed during a day and all of the toxins just get concentrated even more. It is a term known as biomagnification in a food chain.

The amount of glyphosate allowed in red meat that you buy in the store is more than 20 times that for most plant crops. There is a wide range of other different substances that agencies don’t even test for. These regulations have nothing to do with preserving public health, and nobody likes to talk about this because you cannot rinse pesticides out of the meat, so this information is kept out of the public.

All of that poison is not going to disappear when we grill our burger magically. Most of the pesticides in food we will ingest or let say most of the people will ingest comes from animal products. Meat cannot be peeled or washed.

This is quote from FDA website (click here):

“Do animals eat GMO crops?

More than 95% of animals used for meat and dairy in the United States eat GMO crops. Research shows that eggs, dairy products, and meat from animals that eat GMO food are equal in nutritional value, safety, and quality to foods made from animals that eat only non-GMO food. Studies also show that the health and safety of animals are the same whether they eat GMO or non-GMO foods

When animals eat GMO foods, the DNA in the GMO food does not transfer into the DNA of the animal that eats it. This means that animals that eat GMO food do not turn into GMOs. If the DNA did transfer from food into the animal that eats it, an animal would have the DNA of any food it ate, GMO or not. In other words, cows do not become the grass they eat, and chickens don’t become the corn they eat. Similarly, the DNA from GMO food for animals is not in the meat, eggs, or milk from the animal.

Who makes sure food for animals is safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the primary regulatory agency responsible for ensuring the safety of GMO and non-GMO food for animals. The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine manages this responsibility. FDA requires that all food for animals be safe for animals to eat, be produced under clean conditions, contain no harmful substances, and be accurately labeled—similar to the requirements for foods for humans.”

They deliberately don’t want you to know the real truth. All of this is true to some extent but irrelevant. The reason animals eat GMOs in the first place is because GMO corn can be sprayed with Roundup and other more potent pesticides. Nutritional value is not the same as in organic farming, commercial land is depleted of all minerals, but even if it is,  you will still eat all of those fat-soluble pesticides that will accumulate in the fat of the animals. We will see in other articles just how much of the toxic overload Americans are exposed to in real life. Something FDA doesn’t like to talk about because then they will no longer be able to protect their big industries. They like to call their GMO marketing initiative “Feed Your Mind” (www.fda.gov/feedyourmind).

pesticide use per hectare of cropland

There is also something called cannibalistic feed biomagnification. Mercury is not just in fish. We feed a fish meal to other farm animals. Even to the cattle. Farmers discovered that if they feed animal protein to the cattle by mixing it with other plant food sources, cattle tend to grow more and produce more milk. It is not just humans that can eat animal protein all plant-eaters can eat animal protein if the protein is first heated and treated even grazers. Psychologically we think we are omnivores because we can eat thermally processed meat but that is not the case. If you do not believe me here is one study (3). In this study conclusion was:

“There seems to be a good reason to feed a good quality protein like a fish meal to cows producing more than 30 kg/d of milk.”

Fish-eating cows produce milk that has no aftertaste, so yes this study was a success. Except for mercury. We get saturated fat from milk and meat and all of the rest of the bad stuff, and as surplus, we also get mercury from fish in the milk of the cows too.

When we test all of the food products for toxic pollution levels, number one is fish number two is chicken. The two “healthy” types of meat. Cheese comes the third. Worst than butter or bacon.

We also feed all of the slaughterhouse waste products of animals to other animals. Because of cannibalism the pollutants just circle around.

The economically well-designed but extremely toxic trend among affluent countries is to feed any animal byproducts that cannot be eaten by humans to poultry and ruminants (herbivores such as sheep, cows, and goats). In industry, nothing is wasted including bones, manure, blood, heads, and so on. Most of it goes to dog food or animal food. All of the blood, bones, and even roadkill corpses, supermarket waste meat, anything from the city shelter, work animals, euthanized pets, and any protein no matter how decaying are grounded together, then heated to sterilize them, then dried and then used as animal feed. It is all part of the rendering business.

rendering plant machine
Rendering plant grinding machine
Rendering Plant
Hard bones are grained as well and are very nutritious for animals
euthanized cats and dogs
Euthanized cats and dogs in “animal shelter” ready to be shipped to rendering plant to become a dog food.
male chicks macerator
Male chicks macerator
male chicks macerator
Male chicksmacerator

Inedible dead-animals and that means all of them including dogs and cats and other dead pets like reptiles, insects, or anything that is no longer alive, end up in feed used to fatten up future generations of their own kind. Protein is a protein. What cannot be used as animal feed or in other words that can be extracted for more expensive products will end up transmogrified into rubber, car wax, paint, and industrial lubricants. Some of it even goes to animal feed for chicken or fish farms and will not be used for pallets for pets meaning it will end up eventually in our own kitchen table. Most of the toxins that are thermostable will persist from one species to another. Prion disease is one good example of what can come out of this (Mad cow disease). Not only are harmful prions found in the meats of animals, all other pollutants just get passed from one animal to another and eventually will end up on our own plate.

People have a hard time with this data so let us look at some studies.

For example, if we look at perfluorooctane sulfonates almost all of it comes from meat and fish (4).

In this study, they measured the levels of the dietary influx of PCBs and organochlorine pesticides for children and adults (5). For PCP it was the number one fish than meat, fats, cheese, dairy, eggs poultry. For DDT it was fish, meat, fat, dairy, cheese, eggs. For HCB (hexachlorobenzene) it was the same. These substances are fat-soluble and they are in the environment and they bioaccumulate in the food chain.

What about Dioxins? Every five years, the US government releases a report about the number of dioxins in the food supply because they have to by law. This type of toxin is fat-soluble and it will also bioaccumulate in the food chain. Dioxins are toxic waste pollutants spewed out into the atmosphere by combustion in different types of industries and will eventually end up in the ocean for eternity to come. So the fish is number one and number two would be eggs, and then the rest of the meats. The problem is that in America the entire population is well above the upper tolerable exposure limit for both PCP and Dioxins set by the cancer prevention board in every age group (6). The situation can become much worse if you want to become pregnant.

And these would be just a couple of substances I use as an example. The number of pesticides in food and environmental toxins we are exposed to is outstanding. There is a “dirty dozen” list but the real number in the hundreds. Maybe even thousands. There is no real science in all of these chemicals yet. There are too many of them and nobody wants to do research because that will make a business more expensive.

One more false narrative is that somehow grass-fed beef is healthier and less polluted and in a logical sense it should be. The only problem is that when tested for carcinogenicity because our world by now is so polluted even that organically grown meat was shown to be only marginally less carcinogenic. Today only real organic meat would be wild game meat but this has to be a subject for another article.

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Passages selected from a book: “Go Vegan? Review of Science: Part 1” [Milos Pokimica]

  1. Environmental contaminants and pesticides in animal feed and meat https://doi.org/10.1533/9781845691028.1.132
  2. Analytical Methods Applied to the Determination of Pesticide Residues in Foods of Animal Origin. A Review of the Past Two Decades doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2010.12.097.
  3. Effects of feeding a fish meal to cows on digestibility, milk production, and milk composition. J Dairy Sci. 1992 Feb;75(2):502-7
  4. Perfluorooctanesulfonate and Related Fluorochemicals in Human Blood From Several Countries doi: 10.1021/es0493446
  5. Estimation of dietary intake of PCB and organochlorine pesticides for children and adults. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2010.10.025
  6. Evaluation of Background Exposures of Americans to Dioxin-Like Compounds in the 1990s and the 2000s DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2009.08.016

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Arsenic exposure and meat consumption- The “Poison-Free” Poultry Act

If we analyze arsenic pollution geographically, the U.S. is the number one most polluted place in the entire world. This is because arsenic-containing pesticides have been used in the farming industry for decades. Rice is not the main exposure source in the US. In the US around three-quarters of arsenic exposure comes from animal products directly and mostly from the chicken that is considered to be a "healthier" meat source. In second place is beef, then pork, hot dogs, eggs, milk.

Obesity Risk Factors

What are the risk factors associated with obesity? Animals eat impulsively because they are conditioned to do it for survival. For all life on the planet Earth, food is not a choice. It is a daytime job of survival. The hardest thing for an animal in the wilderness is to gain weight. Hardest thing for us is to lose it.


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GoVeganWay.com brings you reviews of the latest nutrition and health-related research. The information provided represents the personal opinion of the author and is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  The information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.



In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor or 911 immediately. GoVeganWay.com does not recommend or endorse any specific groups, organizations, tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned inside.

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October 21, 2021


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