If you’re wondering which produce to buy organic, check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists by the EWG and PAN, a shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce. Each year, they produce an update on the produce that is carrying the most pesticide residue, known as the dirty dozen foods. There are some fruit and veg that appear on the list most years, for example strawberries, spinach and other leafy greens, showing that there’s a high risk of pesticide residue these foods year after year.
To follow a healthy diet, it’s important to buy the right organic produce, and find out which conventional produce is safe to eat (The Clean Fifteen). The fruits and vegetables listed as the Dirty Dozen foods have been recorded as having the highest level of pesticides. These are the fruits and vegetables that are best to buy organic in order to mimimise the health risks of consuming pesticides.
USA & UK DIFFERENCES: It’s important to note that The EWG is based in the United States, so the list is complied on US produce samples, but the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN) creates a similar list based on UK data collected by the UK Government Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Residue in Food (PRiF) committee. See below for details on their different approaches.
The Latest Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen List USA
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organisation that updates the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists every year. It ranks the pesticide contamination on fruits and vegetables after they have been prepared to be eaten. This means the produce has been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled.
The Latest Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen List UK
UK data was compiled via the Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN). Their list is based on data for multiple residues published by The Expert Committee on Pesticide Residues. PAN lists the ‘dirtiest’ fruit and vegetables based on UK Government data showing what percentage of samples revealed residues of more than one pesticide. They have chosen to focus on multiple residues because the UK regulatory system is only set up to assess the safety of one pesticide at a time and so misses what is often called ‘the cocktail effect’ of a multitude of pesticides.