Pesticides in Produce: Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 Fruits and Vegetables by 2023

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Blueberries, beloved by nutritionists for their anti-inflammatory properties, get fiber-rich mung beans this year Dirty beat The non-organic produce that uses the most pesticides, according to the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit environmental health organization.

inside The 2023 Produce Pesticide Shopper’s Guidethe researchers analyzed detection data from 46,569 samples of 46 types of fruits and vegetables USDAEach year, a rotating list is tested by USDA workers who wash, peel or scrub fruits and vegetables as consumers do before checking for 251 different pesticides in food.

Same as 2022Dirty Dozen , strawberries and spinach continued to occupy the top two spots, followed by three vegetables – kale, kale and mustard. Next on the list are peaches, pears, nectarines, apples, grapes, bell and peppers, and cherries. Blueberries and green beans came in 11th and 12th, respectively.

A total of 210 pesticides were detected in these 12 foods, the report said. Kale, collard greens and mustard greens had the highest number of different pesticides — 103 — followed by peppers and bell peppers with 101.

“Some USDA tests showed traces of pesticides long banned by the Environmental Protection Agency. Stricter federal regulation and oversight of these chemicals is needed,” the report said.

“Pesticides are inherently toxic,” said Jane Houlihan, former senior vice president for research at EWG. She was not involved in the report.

“Their intent is to harm the organism, and this inherent toxicity has health implications in children, including hormonal dysfunction, potential risk of cancer, and damage to the developing brain and nervous system,” said Houlihan, now a Director of Research at Healthy Babies, Bright Futures, an organization dedicated to reducing infant exposure to neurotoxic chemicals.

But there is good news.Concerned consumers may consider choosing traditionally grown vegetables and fruits from EWG clean 15, on the list of crops lowest in pesticide testing, the report said. Nearly 65 percent of the foods on the list had no detectable levels of pesticides.

Avocados again this year top the list of the least contaminated produce by 2023, followed by sweet corn in second place. Pineapple, onions and papayas, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, honeydew melon, kiwifruit, cabbage, mushrooms, mangoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon and carrots make up the rest of the list.

Exposure to a variety of pesticide-free foods is especially important during pregnancy and throughout childhood, experts say.Developing children need comprehensive nutrients, but also More susceptible to pollutants such as pesticides.

“Pesticide Exposure During Pregnancy May Be Linked to Increased Risk of Birth Defects, Low Birth Weight, and Fetal Death,” American Academy of Pediatrics famous. “Childhood Exposure Linked to Attention and Learning Problems, and Cancer.”

this AAP recommendations parents and caregivers If they’re concerned about their children’s exposure to pesticides, check shopping guides.

Houlihan, Director of Healthy Babies at Bright Futures, agrees: “Every option that reduces pesticides in the diet is a good choice for kids.”

Nearly 90 percent of blueberry and mung bean samples had worrisome findings, the report said.

The last time green beans were inspected was in 2016 and samples contained 51 different pesticides, the report said.The latest round of testing found 84 different pesticides, with 6 percent of samples testing positive for acephate, a pesticide banned in vegetables in 2011 by the US EPA.

“A sample of non-organic mung beans contained acephate levels 500 times higher than the limit set by the EPA,” said EWG toxicologist Alexis Temkin, who has expertise in toxic chemicals and pesticides.

Last tested in 2014, blueberries contained more than 50 different pesticides. The 2020 and 2021 tests found 54 different pesticides — about the same number. Two pesticides, imophos and malathion, were found in nearly 10 percent of blueberry samples, but levels have declined over the past decade.

Acephate, imophos and Malathion According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are organophosphates, which interfere with the normal function of the nervous system.

High doses of these chemicals can cause difficulty breathing, nausea, decreased heart rate, vomiting, weakness, paralysis and seizures, CDC saysPeople may “feel tired or weak, irritable, depressed or forgetful” if exposed to small amounts for an extended period of time.

Why are levels of certain pesticides higher today than in the past?

“Since the implementation of the Food Quality Protection Act in the early 1990s, we’ve definitely seen a decline in the levels of some pesticides,” Temkin said. “But we’re also seeing more and more substitutions for other pesticides that may not be safe. That’s why there’s a push to reduce pesticide use across the board.”

Chris Novak, president and CEO of trade association CropLife America, told CNN the report “deliberately misrepresented” the USDA figures.

“Farmers use pesticides to control insect and fungal diseases that threaten the health and safety of fruits and vegetables,” Novak said by email. “Misinformation about pesticides and various growing methods breeds hesitation and confusion, leading many consumers to choose not to eat fresh produce altogether.”

The Society of Food Technologists, an industry association, told CNN that the focus should be on meeting legal limits for pesticides set by important scientific consensus.

“We all agree that the best-case scenario for pesticide residues is as close to zero as possible and that science-based efforts to further reduce pesticide residues should continue,” said Bryan Hitchcock, IFT Chief Science and Technology Officer.

Many fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides are essential to a balanced diet, so don’t give them up, experts say. Instead, avoid most pesticides by choosing to eat organic versions of the most polluted crops. While organic foods aren’t more nutritious, most have little or no pesticide residue, Temkin said.

“If a person switches to an organic diet, the levels of pesticides in their urine drop rapidly,” Temkin told CNN. “We see it time and time again.”

If organics aren’t available or are too expensive, “I would definitely recommend peeling and washing thoroughly with water,” says Temkin. “Keep away from detergents or other advertised items. Rinse with water will reduce pesticide levels.”

additional cutting edge Information provided by the FDA on cleaning products includes:

  • Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after preparing fresh produce.
  • Rinse produce before peeling so dirt and bacteria don’t transfer from the knife to the fruit or vegetable.
  • Use a clean vegetable brush to scrub tough produce like apples and melons.
  • Dry produce with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce any bacteria that may be present.

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