EWG's 2018 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce


Can rinsing your produce with water help get rid of pesticide residues? Yes. Each of these foods tested positive for pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce.

Almost 70 percent of the produce sampled had been contaminated by pesticides. EWG's analysis of the tests shows that there are stark differences among various types of produce.

For the third year in a row, strawberries have topped the "Dirty Dozen" list from the Environmental Working Group.

An environmental organization has found that strawberries contain the largest amount of pesticide residue, with about a third of the fruit's samples having at least 10 pesticides.

More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, peaches, potatoes, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.

Spinach samples had, on average, 1.8 times as much pesticide residue by weight than any other crop.

The organization cautions that a small portion of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from genetically modified seeds.

Less than 1% of samples of avocados and sweet corn showed any detectable pesticides.

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More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages had no pesticide residues.

"It is vitally important that everyone eats plenty of produce, but it is also wise to avoid dietary exposure to toxic pesticides, from conception through childhood", EWG senior analyst Sonya Lander said in the release.

Two recent studies from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found a surprising association between consuming high-pesticide-residue produce and fertility problems among study participants.

The group says close to 70% of all non-organic food has some sort of contamination. Male participants who ate high-residue produce had poorer sperm quality.

EWG's Clean Fifteen list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues includes avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbages, onions, frozen sweet peas, papayas, asparagus, mangoes, eggplants, honeydews, kiwis, cantaloupes, cauliflower and broccoli. Spinach, nectarines, apples and grapes rounded out the Top 5. The Environmental Protection Agency was mandated by the federal Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 to enhance the regulation of pesticides and reduce the rate children are exposed to pesticides.

According to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, some pesticides are linked to cancer and can damage the nervous and reproductive systems, depending on the dose.

Americans consume pesticides every day, according to the report. Breakdown products are substances that form when pesticides mix with the environment.