The 'Dirty Dozen' of Fruits and Vegetables

peach

In a recent study, two-thirds of domestic and imported produce contained no pesticide residue, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Yet the study did not mention the other third of produce which did contain traces of pesticides.

According to findings from 87,000 government tests, the Environmental Working Group dubbed 12 vegetables the "dirty dozen." They are the fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticide.

"Some fruits and vegetables can have nine different pesticides in a single serving," said Jane Houlihan, the senior vice president for research at the Environmental Working Group.

Peaches top the "dirty dozen" list because they require a lot of pesticides to grow, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The rest of the dirty dozen include:

Apples

VIDEO: A look at the fruits and vegetables that most often contain pesticide residue.
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Bell peppers

Celery

Cherries

Nectarines

Strawberries

Kale

Lettuce

Imported grapes

Carrots

Pears

For a complete list of the "Clean 15," the produce least likely to contain pesticide residue, Click Here. Houlihan said the pesticides used for this group are toxic by design and can be harmful, especially for pregnant women and young children.

"You can't look at the fruit and vegetable and tell if it's contaminated. You can't see the pesticides and you also can't just look at the thickness of the skin or things that you think would drive lower levels," Houlihan explained.

However, statistics show the majority of fruits and vegetables that do contain pesticide residue have only trace amounts that are allowed by the U.S. government.

The American Council on Science and Health, a nonprofit group that is partially funded by the food industry, and often defends chemical use, says pesticide worries are overblown and are playing on people's fears.

"It's just a scare tactic. Don't worry about it," said Dr. Gill Ross. "Pesticides have been studied and studied and studied and the approved use of pesticides in this country in agriculture do not present the health risk to Americans."

Regardless of whether you are worried about pesticides, everyone agrees that fruits and vegetables need to be properly washed to remove soil and bacteria.

Here are a few tips:

Experts believe holding fruits and vegetables under running water helps wash the contaminants away.

It is always a good idea to use a vegetable brush on hard produce.

One study found that spraying produce with a mixture of vinegar and water is very effective.

For a complete list of the produce least likely to contain pesticide residue, the "Clean 15," Click Here.

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