Antibiotics and Organic Fruit Trees: The Hidden Dangers

Wow, I’m actually a bit speechless right now. Thank you to Fooducate for posting about the disgusting truths about some organic produce on Facebook.  You’ve inspired me to write this disgruntled post.

We know that antibiotics are given to non-organic livestock to prevent disease and encourage growth.

But, did you know that organic apples and pears trees are also treated with antibiotics? It appears that all other organic and conventional fruit bearing trees are prohibited from antibiotic treatment. From what I’ve read USDA certified organic apple and pear trees as well as conventional livestock are the only food items treated with antibiotics.

We assume organic produce is healthy because it is grown using biological, physical or mechanical methods or natural controls instead of chemically processed methods. However, in this August 2, 2012 press release from the USDA, we clearly see there is a loophole.

“While organic principles require the use of biological, physical or mechanical methods or natural controls to prevent or control crop pests, weeds, and diseases, the organic regulations permit use of carefully evaluated inputs when natural methods are insufficient to address critical issues of production.”

“Evaluted Imputs?” What in the world does that mean? Sounds a little suspicious to me. And that’s because it is. Take a look at this, also from the same press release.

Tetracycline has been allowed in organic crop production since 2002 solely to control fire blight, a bacterial disease affecting large populations of apples and pears. Given the high susceptibility of the crops to the disease, and in light of tetracycline’s proven effectiveness to treat it, the National Organic Standards Board recommended that the substance continue to be allowed for a period. However, the expiration date should encourage the development of options for biological controls and also help cultivate fire blight-resistant apple and pear varieties.”

That’s great that they are encouraging organic farms to move away from the use of tetracycline, but that doesn’t help us today. I’m not sure about you, but my kids eat boat loads of organic apples and pears.  I’m cringing now at the thought of how much tetracycline they’ve probably consumed.  And it turns out streptomycin, another antibiotic, is also used. Great! And this is not new information. These antibiotics have been approved for use on organic apple and pear trees for years!

Just what is tetracycline you ask? Wikipedia defines it as “a broad-spectrum polyketide antibiotic produced by the Streptomyces genus of Actinobacteria, indicated for use against many bacterial infections. It is a protein synthesis inhibitor.” In 2010, Tetracycline was added to the FDA’s list of medications under investigation for potential safety issues. Some of the potential side effects per Wikipedia are:

  • **Should be avoided during pregnancy, as it may affect bone growth of the fetus
  • Caution should be exercised in long-term use with breastfeeding. Short-term use is safe.
  • Can stain developing teeth (even when taken by the mother during pregnancy)
  • Can cause permanent teeth discoloration (yellow-gray-brown); infancy and childhood to eight years old
  • Skin photo-sensitivity; exposure to the sun or intense light is not recommended
  • Drug-induced lupus, and hepatitis
  • Can induce microvesicular fatty liver
  • Tinnitus
  • Can cause breathing complications as well as anaphylactic shock in some individuals

Also, since tetracycline and streptomycin are antibiotics, over exposure in theory can cause a yeast overgrowth in the body (if not balanced with probiotics), leading to many, many additional health issues, possibly including eczema and food sensitivities and intolerances to yeast containing foods. And a big one – we all know that over exposure to antibiotics can lead to a resistance to some strains, leaving us unable to protect and heal our bodies when we actually may need a dose of antibiotics. Yikes!

An eczema connection?

And specifically important to the eczema community is this…according to Wikipedia, overuse of tetracycline has led to a resistance to staph infections!

“Resistance amongst Staphylococcus spp., Streptococcus spp., Neisseria gonorrhoeae, anaerobes, members of the Enterobacteriaceae and several other previously sensitive organisms is now quite common.”

We know that those with eczema are especially prone to staph infections. Is it really possible that eating USDA certified organic apples and pears could possibly lead to the body’s inability to fight off staph infections? If the trees are treated with antibiotics, how much antibiotics can actually leech into the soil and into the fruit? I’m probably being over dramatic, in fact I know I am. And I’m sure the quantities of tetracycline and streptomycin are rather small and possibly insignificant all together….in moderation. But take our children’s small, frail bodies, and add an apple and pear every day. If antibiotics leech into the fruit, could the build-up of tetracycline really harm them over time?

What are we to do?

The good news. Apparently there are some apple and pear trees that are naturally resistant to fire blight, so it would seem these would be safest to eat. Whatever you do, definitely don’t stop eating apples or pears. Enjoy more from the resistant lists and less (or none if you’re able) from the non-resistant list. And keep in mind, thankfully organic farmers avoid treating the trees with antibiotics at all costs, but occasionally treatment is necessary.

Apple Trees Highly Resistant

  • Jonafree
  • Melrose
  • Northwestern Greening
  • Nova EasyGro
  • Primi
  • Priscilla
  • Quinte
  • RedFree
  • Sir Prize
  • Winesap

Apple Trees Resistant

  • Cameo
  • Dutchess
  • Empire
  • Red Delicious
  • Goldrush
  • Haralson
  • Honeycrisp
  • Jonagold
  • Jonamac
  • Liberty
  • McIntosh
  • Northern Spy
  • Novamac
  • Spartan

Apple Trees Without Resistance (most likely to be treated with antibiotics)

  • Beacon
  • Braeburn
  • Cortland
  • Fuji
  • Gala
  • Gingergold
  • Golden Delicious
  • Granny Smith
  • Honeygold
  • Idared
  • Johnathan
  • Lodi
  • Monroe
  • Mutsu
  • Paulared
  • Pink Lady
  • Rome Beauty
  • Wayne
  • Wealthy
  • Yellow Transparent
  • Zesta!

Pear Trees Highly Resistant

  • Honeysweet
  • Kieffer
  • LaConte
  • Magness
  • Moonglow
  • Old Home

Pear Trees Resistant

  • Seckel
  • Maxine

Pear Trees Without Resistance (most likely to be treated with antibiotics)

  • D’Anjou
  • Aurora
  • Bartlett
  • Bosc
  • Comice
  • Clapp’s Favorite
  • Dutchess

We know organic apple and pear trees are occasionally treated with tetracycline and streptomycin. So, what are conventional apples and pears treated with I wonder? I’m sure it’s something equally nasty or possibly worse. So, we’ll stick with organic for now as the benefits outweigh the negatives in my mind.

My boys love apples!

….and so do the girls!


If you’re still looking for more information, check out this very informative article from

FROM: Eczema


  1. Tracy Bush on August 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    I know how you feel- it’s almost like a horrible evil has been found lurking behind your back! You feel like you have gotten to a good level, you are safe with your food choices and then a report like this comes out and you are back at square one. Thanks for posting the safer fruits to eat- I will have to leave it in my coupon organizer for when I shop 🙂

    • Jeanine Walsh on March 7, 2013 at 8:01 am

      Yes, Probiotics are a staple in our house. I started to try and cure this allergy with raw milk. I heard raw milk cures allergies. I stopped giving him the raw milk once I heard about the antibiotics in apples. I know there is a risk with raw milk and thought I’d give him that for a short time to build up his bacteria. However I just found out that there is a place I can buy the raw milk that is tested for illness right at the site of sale.

      • Jennifer on March 8, 2013 at 8:26 am

        Hi Jeanine – My son was only intolerant to milk, so we tried raw milk, but he had the same results. Now he is anaphylactic to it. I hope you have better luck.

  2. soyandmilkfreegal on August 3, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    Urgh!! Excellent post. Thank you.

  3. alangent on August 3, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I’m hoping, living in Europe, that this problem restricted to the States, but thanks , I’ll be aware from now on

  4. shermangerherd on August 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    What! Are they actually trying to reduce the population? I know liberals hate people, but why don’t they eat their own. And what about irradiation?!.

  5. Skip Slone on August 3, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    An apple a day keeps the … wait … WHAT???

  6. Jenn on August 4, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Thanks for your research – i’ve never heard of or seen any of the highly resistant apples in any store…but i’m going to be on a search now. Both my kids LOVE apples, but there is no way they are eating them with all those possible side effects! argh.

    • Jennifer on August 6, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Same here! I’ll wish us both luck in finding these lesser known types of apples 🙂

  7. musicgal2012 on August 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I worked in a plant research centre for a couple of years. One of my jobs was to slowly poison little seedlings with pestacide to see what effects certain dosages had over time and how long it took to kill them. Hmmmm, same thing really. Think about it!

    • Jennifer on August 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Wow, yuck! But you are right – we are slowly poisoning our bodies with all these pesticides, antibiotics, etc.

  8. Sean M on August 5, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Great post. But my problem is that I like in Oklahoma, one of the most unhealthy states in the country, and it’s hard to find truly chemical free fruits and vegetables. We have a nice market in Edmond, but it only runs April through October.

    However, I’m definitely going to start digging a little deeper to find chemical free produce. Thanks for the info!

    • Jennifer on August 6, 2012 at 10:38 am

      Good luck in Oklahoma! I hope you find something great! Jennifer

  9. Judith Hanna Doshi on August 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Is it safe to assume that the resistant varieties are not treated with antibiotics?

    • Jennifer on August 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

      I cannot tell you for sure, but I’d assume that they wouldn’t be treated as it would be a wasted expense for the farmers.

  10. AmyinIdaho on August 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Ugh! Is it primarily the skin that is affected or is it also the flesh of the apple/pear? My kiddo loves Pink Lady apples and of course they are on the without resistance list!

    • Jennifer on August 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      From what I’ve read all pesticides and antibiotics can get into the flesh and don’t just reside on the skin. I know, not the best news. Sorry 🙁

    • juan on May 16, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      It’s the blooms that are sprayed, not the mature fruit as I understand it.
      What effect does this have on the final product?

  11. bethanyd28594 on August 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Dang it! :(. Thank you for a great link, though.

  12. Anissa Mathias on August 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    No problem.. I sniffled a little though. My Granny Smiths are on the list of injected. O.o I sooooo love my Granny Smiths. lol

    • Jennifer on August 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      It is sad – so many of our favorites that are also readily available were on that list.

  13. groovylove on August 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Well said, and very informative. Sure makes you think twice when grocery shopping, doesn’t it?

  14. Playamart - Zeebra Designs on August 9, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    that’s amazing. do you know if auxigrow still sprayed on food crops as well? a few years ago i was shocked when i wondered if wine might have msg in it; i did a search and read about auxigrow. hopefully people are demanding that its use be stopped. my body definitely reacts to msg. z

    • Jennifer on August 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

      Hi there – I really have no idea about auxigrow. I have heard that many foods do contain MSG in disguised formats and also in natural versions, which aren’t as harmful.

  15. 4kat on August 10, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I had no idea. Thank you for the eye-opener.
    Great blog.

  16. junkmile on August 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    I eat about 3 apples a day, was relieved to see my 2 brands are on the list, Empire and McIntosh. Informative and thank you.

  17. julesaboutdating on August 11, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Even organic is not that organic..No pink lady from now!
    Thank you for sharing.

  18. janets123 on August 11, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Jennifer, Fantastic & informative blog! A few years ago, I developed a strange rash inside my mouth. Doc was just sure it was a food allergy. I told him, “I’m not doing anything differently except eating an apple every day.” (Fall crop had just come in.) I tried switching to organic apples but to no avail. Had to STOP apples altogether for a few weeks to clear it up. What on earth will “they” do to us next?

    • Jennifer on August 13, 2012 at 10:06 am

      Hi Janet – Thanks for your comment. Do you think it was the antibiotics that your mouth was reacting to? Wow, how interesting! Jennifer

  19. nora on August 16, 2012 at 10:46 am

    Wow this is really disturbing. I don’t even eat a lot of apples or pears (eating them raw makes my throat, mouth & lips itch, though I do like apple pies and desserts). It’s rather interesting though since I used to eat apples & pears as a kid and never had allergic reactions to them; I’ve always wondered whether there was anything chemical in them in my adult years that was the real problem.

    But it makes me wonder what else is lurking in my ‘organic’ food. It’s sad… you try and try to eliminate the crap you put in and on your body, but then stuff is getting through anyway.

  20. KHT on August 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Oh my! This was such an informative read — I was really saddened that Pink Ladies made the naughty list — they’re one of two types that I will eat. Definetely going to bring this list along next time I food shop! Thank so much – by the way – I love how your blog is geared towards a more healthy living!

    • Jennifer on August 16, 2012 at 11:01 am

      Hi – Sorry your apples made the naughty list. Mine did too. Thank you for the feedback on the blog. It’s funny, because my son’s eczema really made us turn our lives around. We’re so much healthier now, so it seems odd, but I have his eczema to thank.

  21. gstringjourney on August 16, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Amazing. Thanks for the info!

  22. keiththegreen on August 16, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Thanks for the list, will modify my shopping habits. I am now even less of a fan of the USDA. Currently they are supporting corporate interests in forcing Canada to include carnuba wax as acceptable for use on organic products. Yes the same wax you put on your car,.
    Hers a list from a US supplier of allowable waxes on food products.

    • Jennifer on August 17, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Wow, and I see shellac on the list. Nasty! Thank you for sharing. Jennifer

  23. yourothermotherhere on August 17, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Yes, it will change how we eat. I would love to see the day when all foods have to carry a large label in plain language stating exactly what you are eating from antibiotic saturation to gene manipulation. Think about it. Production greed is placed above your health. Scary.

    • Jennifer on August 17, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Gosh, that would be nice, but sadly I think it is a dream and won’t ever become a reality. Time will tell though. I wish I could be optimistic about it…. Jennifer

  24. Back yard fruitgrower on August 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but the antibiotics are only used in the spring, when trees are blooming, to kill the bacteria that is spread by water and bees. There is no residue on the fruit at harvest. Apple and pear farmers only use this stuff when they absolutely have to, not every year, but only when they have an outbreak of fireblight. If they don’t spray, the blight can kill whole trees and destroy young orchards. It’s good the scientists are looking for alternatives, but they haven’t got the answer yet. Some varieties are a bit more resistant, but none are totally resistant.

    • Jennifer on August 22, 2012 at 4:20 pm

      Hi – It’s so wonderful to hear from a farmer on this issue. Thank you so much for your comment. It seems that if the tree is sprayed, that it could seep into the tree somehow, maybe through the roots. Perhaps just traces of antibiotics would produce themselves in the fruit, but not as horrible as I think we were all envisioning. Thank you again! Jennifer

  25. trailofcrumbsblog on August 24, 2012 at 8:32 am

    This is really an eye opener for me. Thanks for sharing. Also, wanted to thank you for coming by my blog and for following! – Nicole

  26. Rev Dani Lynn on August 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    I hadn’t heard about that. Thanks so much for the info. I guess it would help if everyone primarily ate only locally grown items but I can’t see the society/culture we live in wanting to limit themselves in that way. I also can’t help but think that all these chemicals contribute to things like autism and so much more. If something isn’t completely pure, natural, organic, I don’t think we weren’t meant to eat them. Our bodies would take many, many generations before it adjusted to them, if ever. (My UNprofessional opinion. LOL) 🙂

  27. JWB on August 26, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Excellent article. There is definitely a whole other side to organic produce that many people are unaware of; this was very informative, thank you for sharing.

  28. jeni315 on August 26, 2012 at 7:49 am

    I wonder if other countries allow this? Most other countries, especially New Zealand do not allow all the chemicals in their organically like the US does. Check out this video that gives more info on that.
    This would explain why people are so allergic or intollerant to even organic apples.
    Thanks for the info! Sad news about the pears. The ones on the not safe list are all my favorites. 🙁 I’ll keep on with my probiotics!

    • Jennifer on August 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Great video – she’s really interesting to watch and so easy to follow. Thanks for the link! Great point about taking probiotics to counter act the potential for antibiotics in the fruit. I hadn’t thought of that. Jennifer

  29. Bluebird Annie on August 26, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Oh-oh …. thought I was eating healthy. But Granny Smith apples are my favorites! What to do?!

    Thanks for all this wondeful information.

  30. danfromsquirrelhill on August 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’m a vegetarian, but I have to accept the fact that every box of cereal that I buy contains small pieces of insects. We try to do the best that we can to give ourselves a healthy diet, but we can never be perfect at it. So let’s just do the best that we can, within reason, and try not to worry too much about it.

    • Jennifer on August 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

      Yes, you’re quite right. We could literally drive ourselves crazy trying to perfect our diets. Jennifer

  31. Irene Tron - Joyful in Christ on August 27, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Oh my goodness! I had no clue. Thanks for the info.

  32. alaine66 on September 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Wow, that is disappointing. When we pay more for organic produce, we expect that we are getting safer food to eat.

    • Jennifer on September 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Yes, you’re right and I think we do get safer food with organic overall, but it is by no means perfect, as we’re learning.

  33. Yulia on September 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Oh no.. I always buy organic fruits because I think that’s the best… What should I do now? My kids like to eat apples…
    Thank you for the info…

    • Jennifer on September 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm

      I think organic is still best, but just try to alternate your fruits more. The apples and pears are still great, but just in moderation perhaps, like with everything else really. Buy local when you can and try to buy apples and pears from the safer lists (those less likely to be treated as they’re naturally resistant to fire blight).

  34. Looking Out The Window on September 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to share this. I was completely unaware of this. I am nuts about the over use of antibiotics and this is now on my radar.

    • Jennifer on September 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

      Yes, the overuse of antibiotics is really frightening. Sadly, there are a lot of things about our food today that are shocking and more than a bit scary. We can only do what we can to find the cleanest food available in our areas.

  35. christiebea29 on September 2, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Speechless is right! It’s pretty sad when kids get it (Mom, why is that even legal?) when asked about the bad foods I try very hard to avoid. (My answer is usually “Money and greed” make people do bad things). Then I get the, “Wouldn’t it be great if McDonald’s was actually good for you?!?! Ha ha! I am glad I know this info, but jeesh, I thought I was worry free buying organic anything. Thank you for posting this!!

    • Jennifer on September 4, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      Ha! Yes, a healthy McDonald’s would make things so much easier. Wouldn’t THAT be the day?! Totally agree with your kids, how is it even legal what they do with our food? Sad. Very sad.

  36. soilentgreens on September 12, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Good piece, and thanks so much for the info!

  37. Victoria on September 14, 2012 at 8:42 am

    your blog is very cool 😀 “the yellow cat”

  38. Elizabeth on September 15, 2012 at 9:13 am

    There is an easy way to tell what fruit one is purchasing. According to Just Label and Millions Against Monsanto there is an easy way to tell if your produce has been altered in any way, just look at the sticker. If your produce has 4 digits, it means that it was “conventionally grown, but not organic”. If it has 5 digits, and begins with a 9, it means that the produce was organically grown. A 5 digit code that begins with an 8 indicates that the produce was genetically modified.

    • Jennifer on September 17, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Thank you. Yes, I’ve heard this too. But, just because it’s organic doesn’t mean there are no antibiotics, if it’s a pear or apple we’re talking about.

      • Elizabeth on September 17, 2012 at 9:56 am

        You’re welcome. It’s truly a sad thing when one has to question the integrity of the food we purchase. I am hoping that California passes Prop 37, which if passed will pave the way for the rest of the nation to have food properly labeled. GMO’s are quite frightening.

        • Sean M on September 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

          While labeling would be a start, it probably won’t change the real issue at hand: chemicals in our food supply. It’s a shame we’ve let greed in this country trump our health. And issues like this are, I believe, directly contributing factors to obesity, rising healthcare costs, and a whole host of other problems.

          I think what’s even worse is that it’s so hard to find chemical free food! I’d be happy if I could go to any grocery store and find it, but we either have to shop at Whole Foods (where our grocery bills have tripled) or drive to a market (Oklahoma City isn’t exactly a leader when it comes to markets or chemical free produce!….hence, a massive obesity problem).

          I do believe we’re going to try to start growing a lot of our own produce next spring to try to offset the availability problem AND the cost issue.

          • Jennifer on September 17, 2012 at 12:51 pm

            Good luck growing your own. That is definitely the best thing, but sadly not an option for everyone. I know a garden would fail miserably in our back yard. I have NO green thumb 🙁

    • Jackie on March 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      Yes, but labeling GMO’s is optional- so even if it is GMO,, it is not REQURED to use an 8. So no one does.

      • Jennifer on March 19, 2013 at 7:33 pm

        That’s true and why it’s even more important to buy organic.

  39. Jennifer on September 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    It’s possible. Or it could be Oral Allergy Syndrome.

    • adriandher3 on September 19, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      Oral Allergy Syndrome? Will check this one out I am not familiar with it, thanks for the link!

      • Jennifer on September 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

        I hope it helps. Good luck!

    • Nadia on March 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      I suffered from oral allergy syndrome and so did my brother. It took me over 9 years to finally be able to eat a raw apple again and that’s only after making the switch to organic apples. So, whatever the reason, it seems that organic still helped me a lot… I’m hoping that the apples I buy have little/no antibiotic treatment on them (though they are in the non-resistent variety). Though, what “small family farmer” said is interesting about the fact that the trees are usually only sprayed before the fruit is there… so, how much antibiotic is even around when the fruit develops would be something I’d like more info on. Info I doubt I’ll ever get… oh well!

      • Jennifer on March 19, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        Nadia – You know, I used to have trouble with apples too. For a several year period they would make my lips swell up and itch. The problem has since gone away, but we’re eating mostly organic now. Back then I remember organic usually caused the same reaction. I’m glad we’re both able to tolerate apples now – such an easy and usually healthy snack, assuming there are no added antibiotics.

      • small family farmer on March 19, 2013 at 10:28 pm

        I know that the trees are sprayed for fire blight before they have fruit on the trees but do not know if there has been any research done to see if spraying at this stage somehow still affects the trees fruit. If I find anything out on this I will pass it on. I apologize about my ranting response before but I do feel very passionate about the fruit that my father-in-law grows and know he uses the most up to date and safest methods in farming that ate currently known.

        I also am seeing so many people take so much stock in buying only organic. Organic doesn’t mean no spray it just means “approved” sprays and a lot of non-organic small farmers who can’t afford to be organic use all the same methods as organic farmers. That’s the category my father-in-law falls into. So my question is would you rather buy produce labeled organic that might come from another country or should you try to buy as local as possible and try to know your farmer and where it’s coming from???

        • Jennifer on March 20, 2013 at 10:10 am

          For me, I’d prefer to support local farmers if I knew they were using the same organic farming methods, but were not technically certified. I do not like the idea of buying foreign produce, but sadly it’s often the only way to know we’re buying organic. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to find the small farmers to reach out and ask them the right questions. It would be great if there was a small organization that helped market these smaller farmers – to help them reach out to local customers and to clearly communicate their farming methods.

  40. mollisia on September 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    wow. i’m spechless too. shocked. apple? my favourite fruit! 🙁 however, good to know…

  41. Andy on September 19, 2012 at 11:55 am

    A good post Jennifer. Take a look at this site New Age of Aquarius, there are several articles on the poison in our food and drinks. Don’t want to scare you, but people need to know this.

    • Jennifer on September 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks! Oh, yuck – more bad food news. Great. Arsenic is found in rice too – so it’s best to buy organic, which has lower levels. Jennifer

  42. nosupermomhere on September 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    OMG…that is just crazy! We eat 2 types from the non-resistant list and one of my kids has eczema! I feel sick! Thank you for this valuable info.

    • Jennifer on September 24, 2012 at 11:25 am

      I totally understand. I felt the same way. Sorry to be the barer of bad news. Jennifer

    • small family farmer on September 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

      Do you even have a clue how hard it is to grow food for others??? Have you talked to any farmers and asked when they spray this,,, Well it is during bloom before their is ever fruit on the trees. If you can come up with a better way to not loose an entire orchard to fire blight then you will be one rich individual. Maybe you could spend a day working in 100 degree weather cutting fire blight out of trees trying to safe a small family farm. Most farmers are trying to do their best to produce food for others and do the right thing. Spreading fear without out all the actual facts never does any good. My father in law has a 22 acre pear orchard. His overhead is aprox $100,000 each year. He is 75 and sometimes works 60 hours or more each week. Some years he only makes $10,000 or less. It is really a hard business and most people are in it to hold on to their family farms. He is only able to farm because of having his hard earned federal pension. It bothers me that you are making business even more difficult by spreading fear about food. Support a small farmer who is doing their best to grow the food that YOU eat.

      • Jennifer on September 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm

        Hello – Thank you for your comment. I definitely am not a farmer, but I can certainly appreciate their hard work and all the food they bring to tables around the world. I understand that fire blight is highly infectious. I am not attacking the farmers directly, but I am unhappy that the USDA allows the word organic stamped on a product that has been treated with antibiotics. I understand it’s difficult to find a natural replacement to treat fire blight and that antibiotics will be banned by 2014, but it still seems misleading that antibiotics are allowed on organic fruit, regardless of when. If the chemical is sprayed during bloom, then the runoff can enter our waterways or soak into the roots of the tree, remaining there most likely for the lifetime of tree, then entering the fruit the following season perhaps. I am not a scientist or a farmer, so I cannot be sure, but it seems logical to me. I 100% support local farmers every chance I get. It’s really the USDA that is misleading all of us in this scenario.

        Thank you.

      • Sean M on September 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm

        I think “small family farmer” has missed the point here. The complaint is that the labeling is incorrect. Secondly, just because it’s “difficult” to provide food for others does NOT mean it’s ok to POISON the masses!

        • small family farmer on September 25, 2012 at 4:53 pm

          Well I’m sorry that you think Farmers are trying to poison you. Nothing is ever sprayed on the fruit and it’s sprayed to keep the trees from getting blight before there is ever fruit on the trees. Until there is an alternative to streptomycin would your vote be for farmers to loose their orchards and stop farming. They could try to cut down or regraph their orchard to one of the varieties suggested but that would mean no income or fruit for around 10 years.. This just isn’t possible for small farmers,, I was just pointing out that you don’t realize how hard it is to be a small farmer and not just give up and sell out to build another sub-division. Even when farmers do the best to use all the safest practices known it is never good enough and someone will always find something wrong. They aren’t out their trying to “poison” people. Maybe we should put all these farmers out of business and just rely on other countries and big ag to grow all the food. I don’t think you realize how going off about an antibiotic that saves the trees from dying and is never in contact with the fruit without out telling the whole side to people is right, it just creates fear and those it hurts most are the small farmers of America who are truly a dying bread, which instead of being demonized should be celebrated for bringing food to people.
          So if you have a solution that wouldn’t put another family farm about of business after their orchard has been lost to blight I would love to know about it.

    • julie on October 2, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      Good old Fooducate. I have this app:-)

      • nosupermomhere on October 8, 2012 at 10:47 pm

        Great! Thanks again for the info.

  43. Sarah on October 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    This is just disgusting! Each one of us in our family has eczema (Me, my husband, my 12 year old step-daughter and my two year old daughter) and I am six months pregnant with another one. My two year old’s eczema flares up when she eats apples (she also gets diarrhea) and I thought it was an allergy but I guess not. I also noticed it more with different varieties. I have given her pink lady apples, granny smith, gala, and red delicious and the only one that did not cause a flare up or diarrhea was the red delicious. The varieties that are resistant are hard to find around here, I also went food shopping today and stocked up on apples that are likely to be treated. I am wondering what other loopholes there are for tainting organic foods, everything we eat is organic to avoid chemicals, antibiotics and things of the sort. I thought I was done with researching unsafe things in foods.

    • Jennifer on October 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

      Hi Sarah – Sadly it’s hard to avoid ALL toxins these days, so try not feel badly about it. We can only try our best to help our kids and families eat as healthy as possible. That’s interesting about the apples. I too used to react to certain types of apples, but since we’ve gone organic I don’t seem to have trouble any more. I think it was more pesticide related rather than antibiotics, but it’s certainly possibly in your daughters case. Also, don’t rule out oral allergy syndrome. But, with that it would probably be all apples that caused a reaction, but I’m not sure if some are more closely tied to pollens than others. -Jennifer

  44. rawvuve on October 24, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Thanks for the article and your concern. As an organic farmer I can confirm that tetracycline is allowed until 2014. However, that doesn’t mean a farmer uses it. It costs money and unless there is a threat to the crop, there is no financial advantage to using it. Conventional apples are typically sprayed with 30 different pesticides. The solution by the way is to buy direct from the farmer and eat seasonally. We have 2 local farmers who grow without these inputs and my son loves apples. I have taught him there is a 3 month window where he can eat them. After apples comes citrus, kiwis and persimmons.

    • Jennifer on October 24, 2012 at 11:30 am

      Hi – thank you so much for you comment. It’s great to hear from farmers as so many of us our simply out of touch with where our food actually comes from. And you are right, surly not all organic farmers use antibiotics. I’m sure most of them want to avoid it at all costs. Thank you for the reminder that we need to talk with our local farmers before assuming they use any harmful substances on their products. Jennifer

  45. Jennifer on November 29, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    No of course not. Thank you! The more people that hear about it, the better.

  46. Jeanine Walsh on March 2, 2013 at 11:03 am

    Thank you for your story. My eight year old who was six at the time ended up with strep throat and had to go on antibiotics. It was his first time on antibiotics. He ate apples every day, that first day he took 2 doses of antibiotics, his throat starting itching when he ate his usual peanut butter and apples. As it turns out he is now allergic to apples. At 6 yrs old he came to me and said I wasn’t allergic to apples until I had that antibiotic. He loves apples, it’s the only fruit he would eat. Now I am really stuck. I can’t stand what is happening to this country and what is allowed. There is no where to go to get away from this. I wanted to put in my own organic farm now I guess I have to plant apple trees.

    • Jennifer on March 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      That’s really interesting that he developed an allergy after eating the apple while being treated with antibiotics. Is it a coincidence? Is it tied to the fact that he was receiving two different forms of antibiotics? Very curious. Have you done any research on this?

      • Jeanine Walsh on March 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        No I haven’t done any research on it. I am searching and now I had no idea antibiotics are in fruit. I always thought it was only animals. I don’t even know where to start a search like that. I would love to know. It bothered me really bad just to put him on the antibiotic. I even tried a holistic doctor before putting him on the antibiotic, but I didn’t want him on colloidal silver and that is the treatment for strep.

        • Jennifer on March 6, 2013 at 9:09 pm

          Hey Jeanine – Have you at least put him on probiotics? That could really help him to counter act the effect of the antibiotics.

  47. Alex on March 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Hi! I used to be an organic certifying agent so my job was to look at farmers’ production plans and approve or deny them for certification. This article makes it sound like ALL apples and pears are treated which is not true. While growers can use those options most (good organic) farmers don’t unless they absolutely have to, plus it’s an extra expense! In fact, a good certification agency will make sure that other methods of prevention are used first as well. A few items like this are allowed since it can be a larger phytosanitary risk to all growers if not allowed.

    To be honest, the only time I ever saw a product like this used was once on a peach orchard. Since it wasn’t for apples or pears we had to end their certification. I’m not in an area known for major apple/pear production though, so take that with a grain of salt.

    Bottom line, know your farmer! I’m not involved in organic certification any more, but can still answer general questions if you have any!

    • Jennifer on March 9, 2013 at 8:11 am

      Hi Alex – It’s wonderful to have your perspective as pretty much an expert on this topic. So, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving this comment. It’s great to know that most organic farmers don’t use antibiotics – I can certainly understand this with the smaller farmers, but the large organic farms – well, I wasn’t so sure. You know what happens when farms scale up. I believe most organic farmers chose the organic path as they personally believe it’s best and their heart is fully in it, so it makes sense they’d try everything in their power to avoid things like antibiotics. I wanted to write this post just to let people know that it is possible there could be antibiotics in/on the fruit we’re eating. It’s just for awareness. What I dislike more than anything is when the public is shielded from facts. Don’t get me started on GMOs 🙂 We still eat organic produce, including organic apples and pears as it’s impossible for us to know if they were treated with antibiotics or not. Apples and pears are some of the easiest fruits to come by all year long, so they are a staple in our diet and that won’t be changing any time soon. I believe they are still healthy for us and that organic is better than conventional by all standards, so we’re sticking with organic. Thank you again! I’m really happy that you stopped by and I’m honored to have your expert opinion. Jennifer

    • Heidi Stepanek on March 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

      When I worked in a green house where lots of sprays etc were used, I once met a tree farmer who informed me that the one reason that apples and pears suffer from fire blight is because it is a disease shared with evergreens and cedars imparticular. Apple and pear farmers should never ‘hedge’ their properties with cedars, as cedars will greatly increase the likelihood of the trees getting the disease.

      • Jennifer on March 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm

        A really great point. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing! Jennifer

      • Dave on March 23, 2013 at 8:19 pm

        Bingo, Junipers, Evergreens, Cedars and Fruit trees share a host relationship.

        This can take some people years to figure out.. myself included.

        Most growers treat on periodic intervals, preventive application can also reduce overall use, I would suspect that moist environments have a higher
        usage as with larger production.

        Also to consider is the residents that surround many orchards, if you have
        seen these tank sprayers work, they can really put out some volume, in the end
        every thing settles downstream.

        I really am pleased to see more farmers using alternative methods, it really makes sense that they are the ones to win or lose the most in the battle and you can’t put a price or profit margin on good health.

  48. GK on March 12, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Thank you for this post Jennifer!
    Jeanine, could you let me know where you tested the milk? Thank you

  49. 3.19.13 | Gluten Free Aurora on March 19, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    […] Article discussing the antibiotics that are used on ORGANIC Apples and which kinds are most likely to have antibiotics a…. […]

  50. thecrazymammarant on March 19, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Ugh totally discusted! Can we ever catch a break! Spending all this money and still they are messing with our food supply!
    Thanks for the info. Sorry this is the world we live in! UGH!

    • Jennifer on March 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm

      It is very sad, but I was happy to hear from a few in the industry that antibiotic use is not at all widespread. I guess we just have to hope they weren’t used in the organic apples and pears we’ve chosen to buy 🙁

  51. thecrazymammarant on March 19, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Hope you dont mind I reblogged this. I try to pass on any pertinent information. I hope I did it right. Perhaps you need to approve it first? I am a newbee blogger! Lol.. Thanks again. Your friendly “crazy”ranter! ;]

    • Jennifer on March 19, 2013 at 7:53 pm

      Ha! I think you did it right – just went and commented on it too. Thanks so much for sharing the post – I just wanted to spread the information on to as many people as would be interested to hear it.

  52. Rosie on March 19, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Thanks for this post. I’ll be more aware of the apple type. Maybe if they stopped spraying our skies with chemical laden chemtrails, we could avoid all the blighted apples in the first place.

    • Jennifer on March 20, 2013 at 10:12 am

      Ha! That’s an interesting thought – it’s possible.

  53. chris on March 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    The concern is antibiotic tetracycline and streptomycin sprays, used sometimes to protect apple and pear trees from being killed by an airborne, bacterial infection called “fire blight.”

    · What is fire blight?
    Fire blight is caused by airborne bacteria, affecting organic and non-organic apple and pear orchards. Infection is most likely during periods of heat and moisture. Blight spreads rapidly and can kill an orchard in days. Dead trees look scorched.

    · Are all organic apples and pears produced with antibiotic sprays?
    No. On average, between 1993-2009, only 7 percent of U.S. organic apple acres were treated with tetracycline. Blight affects especially the root and grafting stock of newer, popular apples and pears, such as Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Braeburn, Bartlett, Bosc and D’Anjou. They are the most likely varieties to be sprayed. Red and Golden Delicious apples are somewhat more resistant to fire blight.

    · Are antibiotics sprayed directly on the fruit?
    Tetracycline sprays are generally used during bloom time, before fruit has formed. This limits the potential for residues on the fruit. The amounts used are small and largely only during “high risk” years when spring weather is particularly warm and wet.

    • Jennifer on March 22, 2013 at 1:25 pm

      Very helpful stats, Chris. Thank you so much for sharing!

  54. Brady Jacobson on March 22, 2013 at 2:39 am

    I recently received an email from someone that buys our organic apples and pears who said they saw your post about antibiotic use on the fruit. Sorry to say that people are so uneducated about this issue. I will be testifying to the National Organic Standards Board in Portland in April on this issue. There is really nothing at this point that can prevent fireblight, a truly devastating bacterial infection that KILLS apple, and especially, pear trees. It’s why there are very few pears grown on the east coast and midwest–fireblight killed them all. Antibiotics are used ONLY if there is severe infection period (it doesn’t happen every year, thank heavens), and is sprayed during bloom time, NOT on the fruit, as this article implies. So there are no antibiotics on any apples or pears, either organic or conventional. We have learned the very hard way that sometimes it’s necessary, but it’s never sprayed on a regular basis–the weather conditions have to be just a certain way during bloom. We’ve used them maybe 5 times in 31 years. We lost a whole block of trees in a year when there was an infection and we didn’t spray, and there wouldn’t probably be very many organic apples and pears on the market if they disallow antibiotics before they’ve come up with an alternative. They’re working hard on this, but aren’t quite there yet. This is misinformation that’s being spread and will only hurt the farmers trying hard to stay in business. Once again, NONE of the apples and pears on your list have been sprayed with antibiotics (only the blossoms before the fruit is formed, and only very seldom when conditions warrant it), so ALL of the apples and pears are safe to eat. The varieties listed are the trees themselves which are susceptible to fireblight, which actually kills the trees. You should think about printing a retraction. I posted this on Fooducate, as well.

    • Jennifer on March 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      Hello Brady – Thank you so much for your response. It’s great to hear from a farm that produces organic apples and pears. And I’m thrilled to read that it’s rare that you treat your organic apple and pear trees with antibiotics. I would assume most other organic farmers would prefer not to treat their trees with antibiotics, but do you know if this is truly the case? I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but is it possible some of the larger, very commercial organic apple and pear farms need to treat their trees with antibiotics more regularly and maybe do not have your same passion for avoiding the use of antibiotics? One question on spraying the trees and not the fruit – have there been any studies done on the amount of antibiotics that actually make their way into the fruit? I’m assuming, I’m no expert, that some of the antibiotics can leech through the soil and be absorbed into the trees and make it’s way into the fruit and also possibly the water supply.
      I am certainly no expert on organic produce, so I’m happy to learn from you. I simply heard about the use of antibiotics through another source and was so surprised, as I was under the impression antibiotics were NEVER used with any organic farming, and wanted to make sure others were aware. For me, and most those that have commented here, the concern is that the public just has no idea that organic apple and pear trees are EVER treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are harmful to our bodies, and many of us avoid them at all costs. This is more about general awareness. I don’t mean to put this case in the same boat with GMOs (as rarely treating apple trees with antibiotics is NOT at all the same as genetically modifying our food), but in both cases it’s about awareness. We just want to know what’s in our food. In my opinion, all food – even organic produce – should be labeled with how it was grown, how it was treated and with what. We have a right to know what we’re putting into our bodies.

      And you are most certainly right that it’s not clear in my post that the trees are treated and antibiotics are not directly sprayed on the fruit, I will update this immediately.

      Thank you again for your comment. It’s very informative.

      • Brady Jacobson on March 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        Researchers are working hard to find an alternative to antibiotics, but this takes many years of trials. Antibiotics aren’t absorbed by the trees or the soil and break down almost immediately on contact with the bacteria on the blossoms. Once again, it’s very important to note that it’s never sprayed on the fruit, so there’s no chance of anyone eating fruit that has antibiotics on it. This is a very different issue than meat. I am as concerned as anyone about over use of antibiotics in our society. Farmers have such a slim profit margin, if any at all, so no one (even the largest commercial orchards) wants to use an expensive spray unless absolutely necessary. There are “fireblight infection alerts” (based on scientific record keeping of temperatures and moisture levels) that go out to growers in the rare case of an infection period, and this doesn’t happen very often. All organic farmers are very conscious about their growing methods, so to read this misinformation, which only hurts farmers, is very painful. Thank you for attempting to walk this back. People are right to ask questions about how their food is grown, and I encourage that, but the answers need to come from organic agricultural experts, so that the correct information is disseminated. We have been farming organically for 31 years, and it has always been a challenge to keep going. To create this kind of unwarranted distrust, will, in the end, put more farmers out of business.

        • Jennifer on March 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm

          Thank you again for the information. I’m glad this topic came up, to get people talking and asking questions. If no one ever asked questions about our food, then we’d be in a really bad place and companies like Monsanto would rule the world. We certainly can’t let that happen. By the way, my family is from Portland and I’ve been to Mt. Hood many times – love the huckleberry pie at the cute little diner on the road up.

    • carolyn on April 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm

      I have been extremely allergic to tetracycline for many years. My lips began swelling the first time it was perscribed. This scares me to death. I would be very leary to buy these products.

  55. Dianna on March 27, 2013 at 12:54 pm

    I am still trying to figure out why Trader Joe’s ORGANIC apples do not decompose in my compost ??? What is being done to the apples that they do not decompose normally !!! (even though they say “organic”.

    • Jennifer on March 27, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Hmmmm…that is suspicious. Have you contacted them?

  56. Sheryl Gilbert on April 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Does anyone know if the antibiotics penetrate the skin like pesticides do? I’m hoping they don’t so we can at least peel the apples. I have been googling this question and come up with nothing. My family & I love our organic apples. Any help with this would be appreciated.

    • Jennifer on April 3, 2013 at 9:44 am

      Hi Sheryl – A few organic apple farmers have commented on this post and it seems that the trees (not the apples or pears themselves) are rarely treated for fire blight, so that’s good. And secondly, since the tree is treated before there is fruit, the possibility of antibiotics residing in the fruit itself is possible, but unlikely and surely not in large quantities. So, the contamination with antibiotics would be very miniscule, if there were any traces at all. Again, this is going off what I’ve been advised by the organic farmers.

      • Brady Jacobson on April 3, 2013 at 2:38 pm

        The world’s foremost researchers on fireblight have shown that the antibiotics that are sprayed on the trees during bloom (never on the fruit), leave zero amounts of antibiotics as residue. If anyone wants more information, I can send you the link to the research. This is an unfortunate piece of misinformation that was perhaps put out there by seemingly respectable groups riding on the coattails of real antibiotic fears to raise more money for their own organizations.

        • Jennifer on April 4, 2013 at 8:49 am

          Hi Brady – Yes, please share the study with us – I know everyone here would like to see the results. Thank you. Jennifer

          • on April 5, 2013 at 2:30 pm

            Hi Jennifer!

            Sorry to take a while to respond, but it’s a very busy time for a farmer. I’m testifying on Tuesday to the National Organic Standards Board about this issue, which is really a non-issue that has created a false hysteria. Here’s a link to a paper, written by one of the world’s foremost experts, on the subject of the use of antibiotics to control Fire Blight, a disease that will surely kill pear and apple trees. It’s not a threat every year and farmers rarely have to spray, but once again, it is not the fruit that is sprayed and the antibiotics are naturally occurring ones that already exist. Compost teas also contain naturally produced antibiotics, which is nature’s way of controlling disease. Thanks for being on top of this and helping to make the point that there is no need to be concerned about ingesting antibiotics on your fruit.


          • Jennifer on April 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

            Hi there – thank you for the link – I read the entire document, very informative. But it doesn’t provide specific details about the research done on the trees treated with antibiotics. Do you have links to these studies you can share? I’m especially worried about the trees becoming resistant to the forms of antibiotics currently being used and the possible run off of the antibiotics into nearby water sources or absorbed into the ground where the tree itself is planted. I’m very interested to hear how the new yeast treatment options do in testing, sounds promising. For now I’m going to stick with red delicious varieties knowing what I now know, that they are the least likely to have been treated with antibiotics. I saw the concern in the doc about consumers preferring the taste of gala and fuji over red delicious and since the former two trees are more likely to be treated for fire blight, farmers are not willing to move towards more production of red delicious. But, I guarantee you, as an organic consumer, and reading the responses to this post alone, that if consumers knew the red delicious trees were far less likely to be treated with antibiotics they would buy them over their preferred gala and fuji apples. Because organic consumers buy organic to specifically reduce their intake of pesticides of course, but also things like antibiotics. I know you mention, as does the article, that spraying is not done on a regular basis, but as a consumer I want to minimize my contact with antibiotics as much as possible, so I will choose red delicious from now on. So if the consumers apple preference is a concern, I would love to help you in any way I can – we could do a consumer poll, whatever it would take to put all the organic apple farmers minds at rest….as I am 100% sure organic consumers would support red delicious if they knew what that decision meant. Please feel free to email me. I would like to help, please let me know how. Thank you!

          • on April 5, 2013 at 2:39 pm

            And you might want to read this information that was published by the Organic Trade Association, as well.

          • Jennifer on April 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

            I would love to take a look. Can you send me the link to the article? Thank you!

      • Kathy on June 1, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        I research fruit tree diseases for a living. This is a worry for no reason. Read my post. There is no harm with the tiny, tiny amounts applies at bloom only. Nothing would be harming the environment. These anti-biotics are naturally occuring in the soil, where it was first isolated from years ago…meaning it is there whether the trees are sprayed or not…

  57. 2013 Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen Produce List | kelly tarr on April 24, 2013 at 8:00 am

    […] the farmer you’re getting your apples from.  For further reading on this issue, check out this article and this short paper about antibiotics in fruit protection.  Both are extremely […]

  58. Kathy on June 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Fireblight is named that for a reason…it spreads like fire and can take down an orchard quick and destroy it forever. The antibiotics used are not used in does high enough to affect humans. Tiny amounts mixed in large volumes of water. This bacterium (fireblight) is only sprayed for during bloom. That is when the bacterium spreads. Usually only one spray and only if necessary. The antibiotics are found in nature.

  59. Kathy on June 1, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    The anti-biotic streptomycin was isolated from soil…it is there whether a spray is applied or not.

  60. Mark Coyner on March 18, 2015 at 6:23 am

    So if antibiotics are only sprayed on the trees, and minimal residue is found to be on the apples themselves, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to eat organic apples and get the nutrients? I just attended a webinar for organic farmers and I asked about Gala/Granny Smith apples and they said they only spray the tree, that the antibiotics discentigrate within a day or two. No antibiotics are present in the actual apple. So as long as you wash your apple/skin you’re apple, you should be fine!

    • Jennifer Roberge on March 18, 2015 at 9:56 am

      Wow! That would be great. I definitely do not think its a good idea to stop eating apples, but it may be worthwhile to be selective about the type we eat and to a variety of types as well, not sticking to just one.

  61. Kathy on April 15, 2020 at 10:07 pm

    On NPR last Summer I heard Trump approved antibiotics on citrus.
    What’s the rest of this story?
    Does this mean antibiotics are on organic citrus, also?

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