How safe is your produce? On Tuesday, the Environmental Working Group released its latest Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce along with its annual “Dirty Dozen” list, which outlines the 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides.
Apples took the not-so-coveted top spot again this year, and EWG notes that the pesticide diphenylamine (which was banned in Europe in 2012) was present on 80 percent of apples most recently tested. Meanwhile, imported snap peas, absent from last year’s list, were the only newcomer this year, ranking as the 11th “dirtiest” type of produce. Hot peppers — in 12th place in 2013 — along with kale and collard greens were placed on a “Dirty Dozen Plus” list of foods that don't meet the "Dirty Dozen’s" criteria but still contain minimal amounts of insecticides.
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The 2014 Dirty Dozen
Sweet bell peppers
Snap peas (imported)
“We released this consumer guide because we believe that the Environmental Protection Agency should do what they’re mandated to do — make more effort to inform the public about the health risks of pesticide exposure and how people can limit the amount in their diet,” Sonya Lunder, the report’s author, tells Yahoo Shine. “Right now, its general advice is basically, ‘Wash your fruits and vegetables.’”
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the health risks of pesticide exposure through food, water, or air are not yet clear. However, EWG states that pesticides are associated with a number of health risks, including cancer, brain and behavioral changes, and hormone disruption. And the USDA says that pesticide residue does not pose a safety concern.
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But there’s still hope for produce lovers: EWG also released a companion list called “The Clean Fifteen,” which ranks the fruits and veggies least likely to contain pesticide residue. Most notably, cauliflower made an appearance on the list, avocado jumped from No. 2 to No. 1, and mushrooms were the only item to drop off the list this year. No single fruit sample from the clean list tested positive for more than four types of pesticides, and more than 80 percent of pineapples, kiwis, papayas, and mangoes had no residues at all.
The 2014 Clean Fifteen
Frozen sweet peas