Cherries came in eighth this year on the list of the 12 most contaminated foods, with peaches, pears, celery and tomatoes complete the list.
But do not stop eating these foods, which are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants needed to fight chronic diseases, experts say.
“If the things you love to eat are on the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list, we recommend buying organic versions whenever you can,” said Alexis Temkin, a toxicologist at EWG who specializes in toxic substances and pesticides.
“Several peer-reviewed and clinical trials have looked at what happens when people switch to a fully organic diet,” she said. “Concentrations and measurements of pesticides decrease very rapidly.”
Consumers can also view the “Clean Fifteen” from the EEC – a list of products that contain the least amount of insecticide. Almost 70% of the fruits and vegetables on the list had no detectable pesticide residues, but almost 5% had residues of two or more pesticides, the report said.
Avocados had the lowest levels of insecticides among the 46 foods tested, followed by corn, pineapple, onions and papaya.
The USDA does not sample all 46 foods each year, so the EWG deducts results from the last trial period. Strawberries, for example, have not been tested by the USDA since 2016, Temkin said.
Tests found the highest amount of many insecticides – 103 – on samples of the heart-healthy trio of kale, cabbage and mustard green, followed by 101 different pesticides on hot and peppers. In general, “spinach samples had 1.8 times more weight of insecticides by weight than any other crop tested,” the report said.
Exposure to many pesticides, even in small amounts, is a “super-additive” as each pesticide has a greater health effect than it could in isolation, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, chief physician for pediatricians at NYU Langone, who was not involved in the report.
Health risks of insecticides
Chlorpyrifos contains enzymes “that lead to neurotoxicity and have also been linked to potential neurodevelopmental effects in children,” the EPA said.
A large number of insecticides also affect the endocrine system in developing a fetus, which can interfere with development, reproduction and metabolism.
Complaints from the industry
The agricultural industry has long complained about the publication of “Dirty Dozen” and says the EWG “intentionally” misrepresents USDA data in the report.
“To put it simply, the EWG’s attempt to turn data into bias … is leading to growing consumer fears about fruit and vegetables,” said Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America, the national association of manufacturers representing manufacturers and developers. . and distributors of pesticides.
“A study found that specifically mentioning ‘Dirty Dozen’ made buyers less likely to buy ANY vegetables and fruits, not just those listed,” Novak said in an email.
“The study actually shows that more than half of the respondents said that the ‘Dirty Dozen’ list made them more likely to buy fruit and vegetables,” said Temkin. “Only about 1 in 6 said our report would make them less likely to buy products.
Steps that consumers can take
Rinse all products before serving. Do not use soap, detergent or detergent for commercial purposes – water is the best choice, experts say.
Select locally. Buying food purchased directly from a local farmer can reduce the risk of pesticide exposure, experts say.
Buy on a seasonal basis. Prices fall when there are fruits and vegetables in season and enough. This is a good time to buy organic food in bulk, then freeze or can use it in the future, experts point out.