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Apples Again Top 'Dirty Dozen' List for Pesticides

Environmental Group Gives Annual 'Dirty Dozen,' 'Clean 15' Lists for Pesticides
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Clean Fifteen, 2012 Version

Making the updated "Clean Fifteen" list because they were found to be lowest in pesticides are:

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Watermelon
  • Mushrooms

Produce & Pesticides: Baby Foods

In the baby food evaluation, green beans tested positive for five pesticides. The evaluation of pears found 92% positive for at least one pesticide residue.

Sweet potatoes came up cleanest.

Making the Lists: Methods

The EWG has issued the lists for the past eight years. EWG scientists used pesticide testing data generated by USDA and FDA scientists to create the lists. In most studies, produce was tested after it was washed or peeled.

"Contamination was measured in six different ways," says Alex Formuzis, an EWG spokesman.

These include:

  • Percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides
  • Percent of samples with two or more detectable pesticides
  • Average number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Average amount (in parts per million) of all pesticides found
  • Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
  • Total number of pesticides found across all samples of the same produce type

"The foods on the dirty dozen list contained the highest amount of pesticides," Congleton says.

Regarding the Clean Fifteen list, she says, "Some of them do have detectable levels of pesticides. However, they are the lowest out of all the foods we evaluated. Some had undetectable levels of pesticides."

Produce and Pesticides: Another View

Winter of UC Davis explains why he says the lists are arbitrary. "What they are not doing is addressing the three important components that scientists have to use to establish whether there is any risk," he says.

The three components include the amount of pesticide, how much is consumed, and how toxic it is.

Winter concludes that "the average amount of exposure is negligible."

"Consumers should not fear conventionally produced fruits and vegetables," he says. "The levels of residues are at levels so low there should not be concern."

Winter says he gets no funding from chemical, agricultural, or food industries.

The full EWG lists can be found at www.ewg.org/foodnews.

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