15 ‘Clean’ Fruits and Vegetables
April 28, 2013, 3:00am

By Ashley Curtin

While pesticide residue is continuously detected in conventional-grown produce, the Environmental Working Group recently revealed The Clean Fifteen for 2013. The study determined 15 fruits and vegetables that were the “least likely to test positive for pesticide residue,” according to the EWG’s website, to help consumers confidently purchase healthier food.

The study, conducted by EWG—an environmental and health advocacy organization—and published as the “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” categorized the “overall concentrations of pesticide residues” and revealed the produce that contained the fewest types of pesticides, if any. EWG determined pineapple, papaya, mango, kiwi, cantaloupe, grapefruit, corn, onion, avocado, frozen sweet peas, cabbage, asparagus, eggplant, sweet potatoes and mushrooms as The Clean Fifteen for 2013.

After being washed and peeled, the study tested and then ranked the level of pesticide residue on 48 samples of the most “popular” fruits and vegetables taken from the USDA and FDA.

The methodology included six measures of pesticide contamination:

Percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides
Percent of samples with two or more detectable pesticides
Average number of pesticides found on a single sample
Average amount (in parts per million) of all pesticides found
Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
Total number of pesticides found on the commodity
The notable findings, which categorized these fruits and vegetable to have the least amount of pesticide residues, showed that “78 percent of mangos, 75 percent of kiwi and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residue.” It also determined that less than 11 percent of the pineapples tested were pesticide-residue free. While 7 percent of the fruits and vegetables sampled showed a single trace of pesticide residue, none of the samples were contaminated with multiple pesticides named to The Clean Fifteen.

The “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” divulges the “overall pesticide loads of common fruits and vegetables” and helps advise consumers about what’s in their food because many uncertainties have been linked to the health risks and consequences of pesticide consumption.

While EWG aims to be a resource for consumers, The Clean Fifteen’s goal is to be a guideline that consumers can follow to purchase healthier conventional-grown produce and reduce people’s exposure to health risks.