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article imageStrawberries now top the list as most contaminated produce

By Karen Graham     Apr 12, 2016 in Food
Strawberries finally knocked apples out of first place on the "Dirty Dozen" list of the most pesticide contaminated produce, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
For five years running, apples have headed up the list of produce with the most pesticide residue published by EWG. Apples are now ranked second.
For the annual report, the EWG analysed the test results on 35,200 samples of fruits and vegetables taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Almost all the non-organic samples of strawberries, 98 percent, had detectable levels of pesticide residues.
A high percentage, 47 percent of the strawberries had 10 or more different detectable pesticide residues and 10 percent had residues from 17 or more pesticides. In all fairness, some of the pesticide residues were relatively benign, but others have been linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental damage, hormone disruption, and neurological problems, according to CBS News.
Fox News reports that at one time, strawberries were a seasonal crop, but with the heavy use of pesticides, the growing season has been extended because of higher yields. California is the biggest producer of the sweet red fruit, with 2.3 billion pounds produced in 2014.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture puts strawberries in fifth place as the most valuable crop in the state, with an estimated value of $2.6 billion. But to get that much value out of the strawberries, California farmers apply an astonishing 300 pounds of pesticides on each acre. About 60 pounds are conventional chemicals that “may leave post-harvest residues.” Actually, most of the chemicals are fumigants, poison gases that can drift into schools and neighbourhoods.
Sonya Lunder, an EWG Senior Analyst says, “The EPA’s levels of residues allowed on produce are too lax to protect Americans’ health. They should be updated to reflect new research that shows even very small doses of toxic chemicals can be harmful, particularly for young children."
The EWG's "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists have been published every year since 2004. According to the EWG press release, "this year's update found a total of 146 different pesticides on fruit and vegetable samples tested in 2014 - residues that remain on produce even after items are washed and in some cases peeled."
The 2016 EWG Dirty Dozen List
1.Strawberries
2.Apples
3.Nectarines
4.Peaches
5.Celery
6.Grapes
7.Cherries
8.Spinach
9.Tomatoes
10.Bell peppers
11.Cherry tomatoes
12.Cucumbers
The Clean Fifteen
1.Avocados
2.Corn
3.Pineapples
4.Cabbage
5.Sweet Peas
6.Onions
7.Asparagus
8.Mangoes
9.Papayas
10.Kiwis
11.Eggplant
12.Honeydew
13.Grapefruit
14.Cantaloupe
15.Cauliflower
More about dirty dozen list, most conyaminated, Pesticides, Strawberries, Apples
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