By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — What produce contains the most pesticide, and the least? A watchdog group released its annual report aimed at helping consumers make better choices in the grocery aisle.
The fruit with a healthy reputation contained the most pesticide residue among the fruits and vegetables tested. Apples top the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen Plus Two list, which includes strawberries and even kale.
“The USDA washes and peels the produce items that it tests and they still find pesticide residues on 65 percent of the samples,” said Alex Formuzis, the Environmental Working Group’s Vice President for Media Affairs.
The USDA has set limits on allowable pesticide residue it deems safe and requires all produce sold in stores to meet those standards. But the watchdog organization says pesticide exposure can be dangerous to some people.
It also has a list called the “Clean 15” containing produce items with the lowest amounts of residue, which includes pineapples and avocados, which have thick skins.
“I’m more concerned if it smells fresh or looks fresh. If that means the non-organic one looks better that’s the one I probably go with,” said Mark Ramsey, a consumer.
The Environmental Working Group says a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables outweighs the risk of pesticide exposure, for most people. Its report is designed to help shoppers make more informed choices before they check out.
Most health experts say the best way to avoid pesticides in produce is to buy organic. The EPA says if at any time the agency receives new data about risks posed by a pesticide, the agency will move quickly to take appropriate regulatory action.
For more information on Environmental Working Group 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, click here.