When It Comes to Pesticides, Strawberries Now the Worst

Apples have been dethroned on the "Dirty Dozen"
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2016 12:54 PM CDT
When It Comes to Pesticides, Strawberries Now the Worst
There's a good chance this strawberry has pesticide residue.   (Jason Wachter/The St. Cloud Times via AP)

Strawberries are packed with fiber, Vitamin C, and potassium—and they've usually got some pesticide, too. In fact, 98% of strawberries tested by the USDA had some form of pesticide residue, a distinction that earned the fruit the top spot on the Environmental Working Group's annual Dirty Dozen list, Time reports. Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst for the group, says the level of contamination for strawberries is "startling," adding, "but even more shocking is that these residues don’t violate the weak US laws," Fox Business reports. The California Strawberry Commission points out in a statement that the USDA report from which the Dirty Dozen is drawn states that pesticide residue is not a safety concern. A different analysis, it adds, indicates "a child could literally eat 1,508 servings of strawberries in a day and still not have any effects from residues."

The EWG suggests selecting organic options when purchasing produce that appears on the Dirty Dozen list, which includes nectarines, celery, and tomatoes. Apples took the No. 2 spot this year after having led the list for the past five years. The Alliance for Food and Farming, an agribusiness group, suggests to Fox that strawberries were intentionally put in the top spot to generate headlines, "since media coverage of the Dirty Dozen list has fallen dramatically." Along with the Dirty Dozen, the EWG released its Clean Fifteen, featuring fruits and vegetables that are least likely to be contaminated with pesticide residue. Avocados are deemed the cleanest, with just 1% of the samples testing positive. Also on the clean list: pineapple, asparagus, and cantaloupe. (This pesticide maker is phasing out chemicals that harm bees.)

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