Apples top the latest “Dirty Dozen” list of pesticide-contaminated produce, while avocados were #1 on the “Clean 15” list of fruits and vegetables with low traces of pesticides.
The annual lists, compiled by the non-profit Environmental Working Group, also included a “Dirty Dozen Plus” category of fruits and vegetables that did not meet the traditional ranking criteria, but “were frequently contaminated with insecticides that are toxic to the human nervous system.” Kale, collard greens, and hot peppers made that list. In what’s sure to be a controversial recommendation to those who fear the lists discourage people from eating fresh produce, EWG advised that “people who eat a lot of these foods buy organic instead.”
EWG argues that its reviews “fill the void left by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has largely failed to tell Americans they have a right to know about the risks of pesticide exposure and ways they can reduce pesticides in their diets.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture report that the review is based on holds that the “residues found in agricultural products sampled are at levels that do not pose risk to consumers’ health.”
A recent Food Safety News article provided perspective on both sides of the issue, and noted that “no matter which choice consumers make, it’s important to remember to wash produce to reduce or eliminate residues.”
The full Dirty list: Apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.
The Clean list: Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.