Environmental group releases Dirty Dozen produce list

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According to the Environmental Working Group, strawberries ranked number one on their Dirty Dozen list, meaning the group found the produce to the most contaminated with pesticides.

The group analyzes data from the Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture on testing of nearly 50,000 samples of 46 different fruits and vegetables.

The produce are ranked and sent out in a list called “A Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.”

Sprouts produce manager Tyler Caldwell said he hasn’t been affected by the pesticides.

“Honestly we’ve never had a problem with strawberries,” he said.

Besides strawberries, the Dirty Dozen for 2023 includes spinach and kale, which Caldwell said they do have a problem with occasionally.

“It’s usually romaine lettuce around December we’ll get E. coli outbreaks,” he said. “That’s pretty much it and we have to throw away all the salads.”

On the other end, the EWG also releases a Clean 15 list with the produce least contaminated by pesticides. 

This year’s clean fifteen include avocados, onions, pineapple and sweet corn.

Caldwell said the biggest thing they do for quality control is rotating the fruits and vegetables.

“We’ll take the old stuff off, I mean it’s old but it’s still fine it’s like a day old, and put the new stuff underneath so people buy that first just to keep it fresh,” he said.

He also said the customers who get upset over produce are usually looking for organic fruits and vegetables.

“Usually they’re just having a bad day,” Caldwell said.

The EWG said they test the fruits and vegetables for pesticides after they are prepared the way they would be at home: washed and when needed, peeled.

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