Strawberries and spinach often contaminated with pesticides despite washing: report

  • The annual Dirty Dozen details the most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables.
  • Strawberries, spinach and other green vegetables had the most pesticides after washing.
  • Avocados, sweet corn and pineapple were the cleanest produce, according to the report.

Strawberries, spinach and leafy greens once again top the list of pesticide-contaminated produce, according to an analysis by the Environmental Task Force.

The Dirty Dozen includes the 12 fruits and vegetables that retain the most pesticide contamination, even after being washed and peeled as consumers would prepare them. It is updated annually as part of EWG’s Buyer’s Guide, based on testing by the United States Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.

Nearly 70% of the non-organic products tested contained detectable pesticide residues, generally at levels below legal limits in the United States.

However, just because pesticides are legal does not mean they are safe. According to a 2019 study, more than a quarter of pesticide use in the United States is linked to chemicals that are illegal in Europe; these chemicals have been banned due to probable or proven health risks.

Because testers wash and prep produce samples before testing for pesticides, these fruits and vegetables require more than an extra rinse to get rid of toxins.

Strawberries and greens once again dominated the Dirty Dozen

The USDA and FDA don’t repeat product testing every year, so not much has changed since the Consumer’s Guide was released last year.

For the seventh consecutive year, strawberries were found to be the most contaminated with pesticides of any fruit or vegetable tested. Spinach came in second, followed by kale, collard greens and mustard greens together in third.

The rest of the Dirty Dozen includes nectarines, apples, grapes, peppers (bell and prickly), cherries, peaches, pears, celery, and tomatoes. Peppers moved up a few spots on the list, but other than that the ranking is the same as last year.

Whenever possible, the EWG recommends people buy organic versions of Dirty Dozen products, analyst Sydney Swanson said in a press release. Organic farming practices prohibit the use of most synthetic pesticides, so organic produce is less likely to be contaminated with known toxins.

However, not everyone can afford organic produce or have an eco-friendly market nearby. If you’re having trouble choosing cleaner versions of the Dirty Dozen, the experts at EWG recommend considering the Clean Fifteen.

Avocados, sweet corn and pineapple dominated the Clean Fifteen

Clean Fifteen fruits and vegetables were found to have the lowest levels of pesticide residues, with almost 70% of the samples on the list found to be completely pesticide free.

The list includes avocados, sweetcorn, and pineapple as the top three “cleanest” fruits and vegetables. Onions, papaya and frozen sugar snap peas were next, followed by asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwi and cabbage.

Mushrooms, cantaloupe, mangoes, watermelon and sweet potatoes were also on the list of products with the least pesticide contamination.

Since last year’s list, the EWG removed broccoli, cauliflower and eggplant from the Clean Fifteen — not because of new contaminants, but because they hadn’t been tested for six years. years or more.

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