Strawberries, Spinach Top Latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

Strawberries are once again at the top of the Dirty Dozen list of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Spinach jumps to second on the list.

EWG’s analysis of tests by the USDA found that nearly 70% of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with the residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers found a total of 178 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples they analyzed. The pesticide residues remained on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed and, in some cases, peeled.

The EWG says the most contaminated sample of strawberries had 20 different pesticides. In addition, the group found spinach samples had an average of twice as much pesticide residue by weight than In addition to strawberries and spinach, this year’s list includes nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, and potatoes.

Each of these foods tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Pears and potatoes were new additions to the Dirty Dozen, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from last year’s list.

By contrast, EWG’s Clean Fifteen list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Industry Groups Respond
“Any report that tells people to avoid eating apples is giving harmful advice,” said Jim Bair, U.S. Apple Association (USApple) President and CEO. “Instead, we should be more concerned with increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. And USApple is not alone in this. The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Dietary Guidelines for Americans, all say eat more fruit.”

The Alliance for Food and Farming also responded to the EWG’s release, shaming the group for releasing a list when consumption of fruit and produce continues to be low. AFF’s executive director, Teresa Thorne, cited peer-reviewed research by the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Center for Nutrition Research and published in Nutrition Today. It found that EWG’s messaging, which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having “higher” pesticide residues, results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organic or non-organic.

“In addition to this recent research, the other important reason that we remain frustrated that EWG continues to use this decades-old tactic is that the Centers for Disease Control reports that only one in 10 Americans eat enough fruits and veggies each day,” Thorne says. “This CDC statistic is especially concerning since decades of nutritional research shows that increasing consumption of conventional and organic produce can improve health and prevent diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.”

To count down this year’s “Dirty Dozen” list from EWG, scroll through the slideshow above.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

5 comments on “Strawberries, Spinach Top Latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ List

  1. I still don’t understand why the industry groups or academics don’t look at the underlying flaw in this non sense list…EWG has no credibility since they combine “junk science” with propaganda to send out a truly misleading message…they pull the residue info from an Dept of Ag data base on “conventional” fruit and veggies, never test any “organic” fruit and veggies for comparison (which would probably be higher due to the use of longer residual life altacor) and then go on to tell you to buy organic when there is no data to suggest it has any less residue….and never compare the residue to level to any known health or safety standard….just a bunch of BS and gets more press than anything else out there….as a farmer, I have to listen to this non sense year after year while our industry does nothing to counter it, other than say, we should eat more fruits and veggies, try addressing the facts and stop trying to play the pr game with these guys, since you are bad at it!!

  2. Walt,
    I am a fellow farmer growing organic vegetables as well as conventional pumpkins.

    1. Where do you get the idea that Altacor is organically approved? I am unable to find any organic approval for Altacor.
    2. Having experience with both organic and conventional insecticides, I can assure you I have never yet found an organically approved insecticide that has residual activity lasting as long any conventional insecticide I use.

    I would like to suggest you broaden your horizons a little and put a portion of your farm into organic production. It is a whole different ballgame.

    Best wishes for the 2017 growing season!

  3. Shift 1/3 to 1/2 the fungicides applications to biologicals. Use of endophytic fungal organisms will reduce the number of spray applications needed for control.

    Once these endophytes become registered…there will be absolutely no reason for strwberries going bad from Rhizopus or Botrytis in the shopping cart on the way home…or in the frig later.

    No reason for Aspergillus in peanuts or Fusarium Head Blight in corn or wheat….but the use will require growers to change the way they apply fungicides….Keeping living organisms alive and installing them into plants will be critical to performance. Once the endophyte is installed, fewer applications of hard chemistry will be needed.

    Result: Less residue, better quality and yield.

    While some products are available now…the really good biofungicides should be available in two years.


  4. Awe springtime, I’ve almost eaten the last of the Girl Scout cookie’s , the Knights of Columbus are frying up fish every Friday for lent and Relay for Life is around the corner. What’s the point? This is an annual Earth Day fundraiser. The idea is to frighten people….frighten them into donating to EWG. A sales pitch that appeals to emotion is always more effective than a pitch which appeals to reason. A claim doesn’t have to be true to be effective. A ‘loaded dice’ methodology that produces a conclusion which is in line with a predetermined policy preference or promotional goal . I have great contempt for health care professions, dietitians and physicians with advanced degrees in science, who parrot this garbage.

  5. I want to thank EWG for these delicious mouth watering images, some farmers should be congratulated on doing a great job Go farmers feed the world!!

Food Safety Stories
multiple hands holding a plate full of veggies
August 27, 2017
USDA Releases Software to Help Small Operations with Food Safety Plans
While the free tool was primarily designed for use by small firms, any size manufacturer can opt to use it. Read More
August 23, 2017
Advice From the FDA on How Growers Can Keep Their Produce Safe
Want tips that will keep your operation on the right side of the FDA when it comes to food safety? American Vegetable Grower® decided the best advice would come directly from the FDA itself.  Read More
Farm Management
August 11, 2017
Vegetable Growers’ Food Safety Vigilance Is Paying Off (Opinion)
When you hear about recalls, the horror stories come to mind first. That’s understandable, considering the human cost involved with Read More
August 9, 2017
Traceability Products to Help You Track Produce
One way to ease the process of a food safety recall is by having detailed records of where each crop has been and who has touched it. Look over these traceability products using the latest technology to help you stay on top of your records. Read More
August 2, 2017
Recalls Happen. Here’s What You Can Do If It Happens to You
Follow this 10-Step plan to protect the public — and your farm. As a bonus, see how Duda Farms runs its mock recalls. Read More
August 2, 2017
Perdue Appoints Key Food Safety Leaders
Carmen Rottenberg has been appointed Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, and Paul Kiecker has been named Acting Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Read More
Food Safety
June 21, 2017
Organization Seeks Winegrape Exemption Produce Safety Rule
California Association of Winegrape Growers says because winegrapes are grown for processing, they should be exempt from produce safety rule. Read More
June 9, 2017
Agriculture Water Standards Compliance Dates Extended
FDA says the agency will extend the compliance dates after feedback from stakeholders. Read More
Food Safety
April 12, 2017
No Need for Hysteria Over Reports of Listeria in Romaine Lettuce
A recent Purdue study says current food safety practices aren't killing listeria in romaine lettuce tissue. Rutger's Richard VanVranken says the report isn't as alarming as it sounds. Read More
Farm Management
April 12, 2017
Take the Stress out of Food Safety Inspections
Buurma Farms has a low-tech, common sense system in place that keeps its produce as safe as possible, and makes passing inspections easy. Read More
Business Planning
March 22, 2017
How HortTech Is Solving Grower Challenges
Dozens of tech companies are looking for solutions to real-world problems vegetable growers face. We take a look at what it could really mean for you and your business. Read More
March 15, 2017
Group Wants To Streamline Food Safety Regulations
There are 15 federal agencies implement more than 30 different food safety statutes. A team of experts believe they have a solution. Read More
Food Safety
March 10, 2017
Strawberries, Spinach Top Latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ List
Industry groups dispute annual report, noting any report that has the effect of decreasing Americans’ fruit and vegetable intake is injurious to their health. Read More
March 8, 2017
How Steam Helps Remove Pathogens on Cantaloupes
The technique also may effectively sanitize watermelons, honeydews, cucumbers, and baby carrots. Read More
Food Safety Modernization Act moving at snail's pace
Food Safety
February 21, 2017
Food Safety Modernization Act Creeping Forward
Massive regulatory overhaul unfolds as the specialty crop industry hopes to ensure common-sense food safety rules and inspection. Read More