Cheesecake with strawberries on plate, wooden table background

Dirty Dozen update: Do not eat these common foods!

Each year, nutritionists release a produce list of the “dirty dozen™,” foods that have the largest amounts of potentially harmful pesticides, as well as the “clean fifteen™,” with very low or no traces of pesticides.

Most non-organic fresh produce in US has traces of pesticides

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a nonprofit environmental health organization, releases a list it calls the “Dirty Dozen™” fruits and vegetables that its sampling has found to have the highest traces of pesticides.

Medical studies have shown that any exposure to pesticides is problematic and can harm human health, but it is particularly concerning for children, who are especially vulnerable to many of the harmful effects associated with pesticides, EWG reports.

According to EWG, nearly 75 percent of fresh non-organic produce sold in the United States contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides. Some tests from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) found traces of pesticides that had long been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In testing, the USDA peels or scrubs and washes produce samples before testing. For its testing, the FDA only removes dirt. Yet, even with all these steps, tests from both agencies still find traces of 251 different pesticides.

Which foods made in this year’s do-not-eat ‘dirty dozen’ list?

A surprising addition to this year’s list is blueberries, which is disappointing news, as nutritionists especially recommend this antioxidant-rich food for its anti-inflammatory properties, CNN reported.

The 2023 “dirty dozen™” from the EWG lists the following twelve fruits and vegetables as showing the most contamination from pesticides in testing.

1. Strawberries

2. Spinach

3. Kale, collard, and mustard greens (103 pesticides)

4. Peaches

5. Pears

6. Nectarines

7. Apples

8. Grapes

9. Bell and hot peppers (101 pesticides)

10. Cherries

11. Blueberries

12. Green beans

Noteworthy findings

-All of the produce on the Dirty Dozen had at least one sample with at least 13 different pesticides.

-More than 90% of samples of strawberries, apples, cherries, spinach, nectarines, and grapes tested positive for residues of two or more pesticides.

-A total of 210 pesticides were found on the Dirty Dozen items.

The “clean fifteen” foods with the lowest to no traces of pesticides

Here are the “clean fifteen™” items with low to no pesticide residue, according to testing by the EWG.

1. Avocados

2. Sweet corn

3. Pineapple

4. Onions

5. Papaya

6. Sweet peas (frozen)

7. Asparagus

8. Honeydew melon

9. Kiwi

10. Cabbage

11. Mushrooms

12. Mangoes

13. Sweet Potatoes

14. Watermelon

15. Carrots

Noteworthy findings

-Nearly 65% had no detectable pesticide residues.

-No sample from the first six on the list tested positive for more than three pesticides.

-Avocados and sweet corn had less than 2% of samples showing detectable pesticides.

-Slightly over 10% of the 15 had residues of two or more pesticides.