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Wash your produce: 251 pesticides traced in recent study

Strawberries and spinach have the highest traces of pesticides, while avocados have the lowest, according to a recent study

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A bowl of strawberries is rinsed in a sink.

Excessive amounts of pesticides are still being found in large quantities of American produce, like strawberries, according to a recent study from the Environmental Working Group.


Possibly dangerous amounts of pesticides are still being found in a lot of U.S. produce, and millions continue to eat contaminated greens every day, the Environmental Working Group said in its most recent study.

“Nearly 75% of non-organic fresh produce sold in the U.S. contains residues of potentially harmful pesticides,” with blueberries and green beans being added to the group’s 2023 Dirty Dozen list, which names the top 12 fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide traces found.

The nonprofit health organization said on the website that the purpose of releasing an updated annual shopper’s guide is to help consumers make safer, more informed food selections when buying produce for themselves or their families.

CNN reported, “Researchers analyzed testing data on 46,569 samples of 46 fruits and vegetables conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture” — tracing 251 pesticides — after washing, peeling and/or scrubbing the greens.

An article released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said an estimated 48 million people get food-based sicknesses every year.

Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Some of the fruits and vegetables listed with the highest traces of pesticides are:

  • Strawberries.
  • Spinach.
  • Kale, collard and mustard greens.
  • Peaches.
  • Grapes.
  • Nectarines.

Blueberries and green beans were No. 11 and No. 12 on the list.

The Clean Fifteen “shows which fruits and vegetables tested have very low or no traces of pesticides,” the study said. This list includes:

  • Avocados.
  • Sweet corn.
  • Onions.
  • Papaya.
  • Kiwi.
  • Mangos.

Cleaning your produce

Cutting out produce from your diet to avoid toxins is not a good idea.

The T.H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard said in a study that a diet full of vegetables and fruits can lower your blood pressure, prevent certain cancers and reduce the risk of heart disease.

To clean produce, the FDA suggests making sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap before handling food, rinsing foods before peeling them and using a clean vegetable brush for stubborn dirt on produce like melons or cucumbers.

The New York Times said using a solution that is one part white vinegar to three parts water is “effective at reducing bacteria on produce, and in our testing, we didn’t detect any sour taste after a thorough post-soak rinse with fresh tap water.”