Pesticides include a wide array of chemicals that kill unwanted insects, plants, molds and rodents.
Spinach is the second dirtiest item on the “Dirty Dozen” list, followed by (in order of contamination) nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and sweet bell peppers. Each of these foods tested positive for pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.
In fact, nearly 70% of conventionally grown — non-organic — produce samples were contaminated, the tests indicated.
The 13th suspect
The shopper’s guide is based on results of tests by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration on more than 38,800 non-organic samples. The Environmental Working Group looks at six measures of contamination including the average number of pesticides found on samples and the average amount of pesticides found.
When testing samples, the USDA personnel wash or peel produce to mimic consumer practices.
A single sample of strawberries showed 20 pesticides, the report indicated. More than 98% of strawberries, spinach, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue. And, on average, spinach samples had 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.
This year, the Dirty Dozen list is actually a “baker’s dozen” and includes a 13th suspect: hot peppers. These were found to be contaminated with insecticides toxic to the human nervous system, according to the organization. Anyone who frequently eats hot peppers should buy organic, it says.
“If you cannot find or afford organic hot peppers, cook them, because pesticide levels typically diminish when food is cooked,” the authors of the report noted.
‘Chronic health implications’
Children are of special concern as younger bodies have greater susceptibility to pesticides than adult bodies, the report emphasizes.
Consumers who want to eat the dirty dozen fruits and veggies should buy organic, according to the organization.
Tom Stenzel, president and CEO of the United Fresh Produce Association, says consumers should not rely on a shopping guide when deciding which fruits and vegetables to purchase. The industry group represents growers, shippers, fresh-cut processors, wholesalers, distributors and retailers.
“Consumers have more choices now than ever before when it comes to the fruits and vegetables they consume,” Stenzel said.
“Food safety is a top priority for the industry, from field to fork,” he said. “The fresh produce industry seeks to ensure a safe, efficient and timely supply chain, allowing consumers to experience fresh fruits and vegetables at the peak of their performance.”
“Empowering consumers with knowledge is key to helping them make healthy choices for their diets and that of their family,” Stenzel said.
On a positive note, the Environmental Working Group also creates a lesser-known companion to the Dirty Dozen: the “Clean 15” guide to produce containing the least amount of pesticides.
Avocados lead 2018’s clean fruits and veggies list, followed by sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwi, cantaloupe, cauliflower and broccoli.
Veggies placed in the top two spots — avocados and sweet corn — both showed pesticides on less than 1% of tested samples, the new report indicated. And more than 80% of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages tested negative for pesticide residues.
The organization cautions that a small portion of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the US is produced from genetically modified seeds. It says anyone wanting to avoid genetically modified produce should buy organic varieties of these crops.
“Everything you eat and drink matters,” the agency says. “The right mix can help you be healthier now and in the future.”
News credit : Cnn