Knowing fruits with the most pesticides can help you protect yourself, your family and community while purchasing any fruit product. There are plenty of suggestions online regarding fruit ranking, including lists with the ten most (and fewest) pesticide-laden fruits. All produce contains chemicals, not just pesticides. Heres a list of fruits and the amount of pesticides they contain
These Fruits And Vegetables Have The Most Pesticides, According To The EWG
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has announced its annual Dirty Dozen list, curating the top twelve types of conventional produce to avoid due to pesticide contamination. Once again, strawberries, spinach and leafy greens (like kale and collards) are the top offenders. Nectarines, apples and grapes follow, with bell peppers, cherries, peaches, pears, celery and tomatoes stacking on.
The 2022 Dirty Dozen™ is a list of the most pesticide-contaminated fresh fruits and vegetables, based on the latest tests by the Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. Pesticide residues were found on over 70 percent of the non-organic produce tested by the USDA and FDA, continuing a problem highlighted in last year’s report. Still, the list isn’t a reason to avoid fresh food.
“Everyone should eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, no matter how they’re grown,” said EWG Toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D. “But shoppers have the right to know what potentially toxic substances are found on these foods, so they can make the best choices for their families, given budgetary and other concerns.” Recent research from Harvard University shows that consuming fruits and vegetables with high levels of pesticide residues may offset the protections eating such foods normally provides against cardiovascular disease and mortality.
Before testing fruits and vegetables, the USDA washes, scrubs and peels them as consumers would – so it’s not accurate to say that those concerned about ingesting pesticides should just wash their produce thoroughly. For the more than 70 percent of non-organic produce with detectable pesticides, nearly all of the levels fall under the legal limits allowed by government regulations.
“EWG recommends that, whenever possible, consumers purchase organic versions of Dirty Dozen produce,” said EWG Science Analyst Sydney Swanson. “Most pesticides can’t legally be applied to produce that is grown organically.”
When organic options are unavailable or unaffordable, EWG advises shoppers to buy produce from its Clean Fifteen™ . This year, almost 70 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had no detectable pesticide residues whatsoever.
View the list of foods with the most and least pesticides
Cherries came in seventh on the list of the 46 most contaminated foods, followed by peaches, pears, bell and hot peppers, celery, and tomatoes.
Avoiding pesticides is especially critical for babies and children, experts say, because of the damage they can cause to the developing brain. A 2020 study found an increase in IQ loss and intellectual disability in children due to exposure to organophosphates, a common class of pesticides.
The report also offers consumers a list of the “Clean Fifteen” — foods with the least amount of pesticides. Nearly 70% of the “Clean” fruit and vegetable samples had no pesticide residues, making them a safer choice, EWG says.
“Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables,” the EWG report stated. “Only 8 percent of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.”
Vegetables on this list include sweet corn, onions, frozen peas, eggplant, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and mushrooms.
The guide’s cleanest fruits include pineapple, papaya, kiwi, honeydew melon, cantaloupe and avocado (yes, it’s a fruit). Avocados and sweet corn were the least contaminated, the report found, with less than 2% of samples showing detectable pesticide residue.
“It’s a really great resource,” said Jane Houlihan, the national director of science and health for Healthy Babies Bright Futures, a coalition of advocates committed to reducing babies’ exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.
“By nature pesticides are toxic, and doing what you can to reduce exposures is a really good idea to protect your family’s health,” said Houlihan, who was not involved with the report.
“That’s where the ‘Clean Fifteen’ list is particularly useful,” said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, chief of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone, who was not involved in the report.
“It can give families reassurance that what they are buying, even if it’s conventionally farmed, may not pose the same level of concerns from pesticides,” Trasande said.
An annual report
The EWG report, issued yearly since 2004, uses US Department of Agriculture test data to rank 46 foods that are the most and least contaminated with pesticide residues. The agency prepares the food as consumers would — washing, peeling or scrubbing — before testing each item. The USDA does not sample all 46 foods each year, so EWG pulls results from the most recent testing period.
A new entry on this year’s list was collard greens and mustard greens, which joined kale in the No. 3 spot. Tests found these vegetables often contained the pesticide DCPA, classified by the EPA as a possible human carcinogen. It was banned by the European Union in 2009.
“The other new big thing on the list is bell and hot peppers, which came in at No.10. They haven’t been tested since 2011-2012, and the USDA found 115 different pesticides on last year’s pepper crops. This is the most, by far, of any of the crops tested,” said EWG toxicologist Thomas Galligan.
Peppers, along with “Dirty Dozen” members oranges, apples, grapes and cherries, are often contaminated with chlorpyrifos, a pesticide originally created as an alternative to DDT.
“Chlorpyrifos should be banned in the US, as it is in Europe. It’s neurotoxic and harms children’s brain development,” Houlihan said.
Chlorpyrifos was slated to be permanently banned in the US in 2016 when EPA safety experts determined it was harming children and farm workers. One study, for example, found lasting structural changes in the brains of pre-teen children who had been highly exposed to chlorpyrifos in utero.
“That decision was overturned under the Trump administration, and chlorpyrifos was allowed to remain in use,” said EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin. “Several states have taken action to ban it, including California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon. So we’re seeing a lot of movement at the state level, due to the federal shortcomings.”
On January 20, the Biden administration put chlorpyrifos on their list of Trump administration actions to review in order to protect the public health.
Pesticides remain, even after peeling
While kid-favorite citrus fruits like clementines and tangerines ranked No. 20 and oranges came in at No. 24 on the overall list, EWG did independent testing on citrus fruits this year, and found two fungicides, imazalil and thiabendazole, were widespread.
“Evidence exists that they have the potential to disrupt the hormone system, and one is suspected of causing cancer,” Houlihan said.
Imazalil, a fungicide used after harvest to keep fruits from molding on the way to market, was found on almost 90% of all the grapefruit, oranges, mandarins and lemons tested early this year by an independent laboratory commissioned by EWG. The USDA found the same fungicide on over 95% of tangerines tested in 2019.
Most startling — the flesh of the fruits was tested after they were peeled.
“I have said repeatedly that that fruits and vegetables with rinds that you don’t eat are less problematic,” Trasande said. “I’m quite frankly surprised and concerned that you can see fungicides penetrate to that level.”
Why would fungicides be needed after fruit is harvested? Partly to satisfy the picky American consumer, Trasande said.
“We live in an age where we like to see beautiful fruits and vegetables,” he said. “And we expect, as consumers, to almost have that perfect, almost photoshopped image in the grocery aisle.
“Some decay doesn’t necessarily mean loss in nutritional value, or even any safety hazard,” Trasande added. “Those fungicides are really there to make the consumer feel better about buying a product.”
CNN reached out to CropLife America, a national trade association that represents the manufacturers, formulators and distributors of pesticides, for comment on this year’s report.
“Scaring Americans away from eating foods that are a safe and vital part of our diet is a disservice to public health,” said CropLife America President and CEO Chris Novak, in a statement.
“The benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh any possible risks from exposure to pesticide residues,” Novak said. “Federal regulators monitor our food for pesticide residues, ensuring produce and other foods are safe to eat. CLA supports the choice of consumers to purchase food grown using any farming method to promote a healthy lifestyle.”
EWG agrees that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables is key to a healthy diet,
“A diet that’s high in fruits and vegetables is a healthy diet, so that’s the most important thing,” said EWG’s Galligan. “Our general guidance is to recommend that consumers choose organic whenever possible, especially for the items on the Dirty Dozen list.
“We do recognize that some people can’t afford or don’t have access to organic food, and that’s why we create our Clean Fifteen list as well so they can choose non-organic foods with the least amount of pesticides,” Galligan said.
Pesticide Data Program reports issued by the US Department of Agriculture typically indicate that when pesticide residues are found on foods, they are nearly always at levels below the human tolerance limits set by the agency.
While most pesticide residues do fall within the USDA government-mandated restrictions, that doesn’t mean they are safe, EWG said.
What to do?
Besides eating exclusively from the “Clean Fifteen” list of the least contaminated foods, experts suggest the following tips.
Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Serving a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, regardless of which list they’re on, is a key recommendation.
“It’s really important, not only from the perspective of making sure you’re getting a variety of nutrients, but also from the perspective of making sure you’re not concentrating any particular pesticide in your family’s diet,” Houlihan said.
Always wash before eating. “Washing with water is the best way to remove surficial pesticide residues. California routinely tests washed and unwashed produce samples, and finds higher pesticide amounts on unwashed samples, on average,” Houlihan said.
The US Food and Drug Administration recommends against washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash.
“Produce is porous. Soap and household detergents can be absorbed by fruits and vegetables, despite thorough rinsing, and can make you sick. Also, the safety of the residues of commercial produce washes is not known and their effectiveness has not been tested,” the FDA said.
Eat organic when possible. While organic foods can be exposed to pesticides — and can certainly contain toxic metals found in soil — clinical trials have found people who moved to organic foods saw “rapid and dramatic reductions” in the levels of pesticides in their urine, a common test for pesticide exposure.
“Eating organic reduces your level of pesticides in urine, whether you are high income or low income, studies have been done in both,” Trasande said.
Buy local and in season. “Farm-to-table” — a term that describes food that is locally sourced and purchased directly from a farmer or producer, is not only popular in homes and restaurants, it can cut down on pesticide use, experts say.
Prices drop when fruits and vegetables are in season and plentiful, and targeting in-season items is a good way to stock up on organic foods — especially those on the “Dirty Dozen” list — that might be more expensive at other times.
Freeze or can organic foods. Overfill your shopping cart with organic fruits and vegetables on sale or in season, experts suggest, and then prep and freeze or can them for future use.
Advocate for change. Action by consumers is key to change, experts say.
“It’s no secret that we’ve seen other industries change their manufacturing process in the US due to consumer activism,” Trasande said. “Call attention to the ‘Dirty Dozen’ report and ask companies for accountability, ask for their testing data on fruits and vegetables.”
“I think that can go a long way and get companies to compete with each other on something consumers value — safety for themselves and for their children.”
Which fruits, vegetables contain the most pesticides?
(WFXR) — Spring is approaching and that means dining on fresh fruits and vegetables is just around the corner.
To help you decide which to choose, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has listed its annual “Dirty Dozen” of fruits and vegetables that contain the highest traces of pesticides.
For the 2021 list, EWG looked at 46 items that were contaminated with more pesticides than other crops, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.Ready to shop local again? Outdoor markets make a comeback
“Whether organic or conventionally grown, fruits and vegetables are critical components of a healthy diet,” the group said. “However, many crops contain potentially harmful pesticides, even after washing, peeling or scrubbing, which the USDA does before testing each item.”
The EWG found that almost 70% of the non-organic fresh produce sold in the United States contains potentially harmful chemical pesticide residues.
Key findings in the study include:
- More than 90% of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines and leafy greens tested positive for residue of two or more pesticides.
- A single sample of kale, collard and mustard greens showed up to 20 different pesticides.
- Spinach, on average, had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue, by weight, as any other crop tested.
- Hop and bell peppers had the most pesticides detected (115 in total) and 21 more than the crops with the second-highest amount (kale, collard and mustard greens).
Here is the list of the Dirty Dozen:
- Kale, collard and mustard greens
- Bell and hot peppers
The EWG also listed its “Clean Fifteen,” spotlighting fruits and vegetables with the lowest traces of pesticides.Massive food delivery orders from March Madness teams pay off for Indy restaurants
Key findings in this part of EWG’s study include:
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest with fewer than 2% of samples showing any detectable pesticides.
- The first seven Clean Fifteen crops — avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions, papaya, sweet peas and eggplant — tested positive for three or fewer pesticides on a single sample.
- Almost 70% of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had no residue of pesticide.
- Multiple pesticide residues are extremely rare on Clean Fifteen vegetables. Only 8% of Clean Fifteen fruit and vegetable samples had two or more pesticides.
Here is the list of the Clean Fifteen:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
Foods Are Most Likely to Carry Pesticide Residue
Strawberries and leafy greens rank as the “dirtiest” produce on this year’s Dirty Dozen list from the Environmental Working Group.
These Foods Are Most Likely to Carry Pesticide Residue, Even After Washing
Strawberries and leafy greens rank as the “dirtiest” produce on this year’s Dirty Dozen list from the Environmental Working Group.
There’s a good reason we say to wash all your produce: Pesticides like to hang on! The Environmental Working Group (EWG) released its 2022 Dirty Dozen list, which shows the fruits and veggies most contaminated with residues from pesticides, according to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The research revealed that 70% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful chemical pesticides. Of the 46 fresh produce items analyzed, strawberries and spinach ranked as the top two “dirtiest” foods purchased at the grocery store, and kale (along with mustard and collard greens) came in third.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen
According to the EWG’s report, a single sample of kale, collard greens, and mustard greens had up to 103 different pesticides. Spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop tested. And a whopping 101 pesticides in total were detected on hot peppers and bell peppers. There is debate by groups such as the Alliance for Food and Farming about the methodology used by EWG and no matter the food, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is always a healthy choice. Only one in 10 Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in a day, so don’t let this list dissuade your consumption. Rather, use it to inform when to buy organic (if possible), to thoroughly wash produce, to grow your own, and just to make a more informed decision.
Here’s the EWG’s full list of the 2022 Dirty Dozen rankings:
- Kale, collard greens, and mustard greens
- Bell peppers and hot peppers
Each of the foods included on the list tested positive for a variety of pesticide residues. They also averaged higher concentrations of pesticides than other fruits and veggies. In particular, the EWG reports that over 90% of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and kale tested positive for two or more pesticide residues.
And while you should thoroughly wash all fruits and veggies before eating them, a simple rinse may not get rid of lingering pesticides. However, this doesn’t mean you should cut these fruits and veggies out of your diet. The EWG recommends buying organic produce when you can, which is grown using fewer pesticides. Washing helps remove some of the residues from non-organic produce.
EWG’s Additional 2022 Research on Citrus
In addition to the annual lists of fresh produce, EWG highlighted its detection of harmful fungicides on citrus fruits tested by the USDA as well as its own team of scientists. According to the study, two hormone-disrupting (and potentially cancer-causing) fungicides, imazalil and thiabendazole, were detected on 90% of non-organic samples of grapefruit, lemons, mandarins, and oranges. Imazalil is also classified as a likely carcinogen, and the citrus contained about 20 times the amount EWG scientists recommend as a limit.
EWG’s Clean Fifteen
Alongside the Dirty Dozen, the EWG also provides its Clean Fifteen list each year. The list shows which fruits and veggies had the lowest concentrations of pesticide residues. This year, avocados and sweet corn took the top two spots on the clean list, with less than 2% of samples showing any detectable pesticide residues. More than 70% of the samples on the Clean Fifteen list showed no pesticide residues at all.
Here’s the full list of 2022’s Clean Fifteen:
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon