(UPDATED COVERAGE, May 1) The Environmental Working Group issued its latest Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists in late April, accompanied by industry objections and observations that the consumer media coverage was muted for the tenth edition of the list.
There appears to be very little media coverage of the Dirty Dozen list this year, with no Associated Press wire story and no national broadcast story, said Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the Watsonville, Calif.-based Alliance for Food and Farming. Even so, she said the Dirty Dozen list is troubling and could cause some consumers to eat less produce.
“Our real concern here is that Environmental Working Group is really misleading people,” Dolan said.
For example, Dolan said the consumer group doesn’t link to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program report, which includes information that the levels don’t consititute a health problem. The consumer group won’t link to the report, she says, despite the fact that their analysts use the report to create the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.
Dolan said she believes the reason they don’t link to the report is that the USDA comes to a completely different conclusion than the EWG about the risk of pesticide residues. She said consumers should refer to the USDA’s document of “What consumers should know” about the pesticide residues report before they consider the claims of the EWG.Sonya Lunder, senior analyst for the Environmental Working Group, said in an e-mail the EWG has linked to the USDA pesticide report in some previous instances and references it twice in the 2014 Dirty Dozen report. She also said the EWG shoppers’ guide received wide coverage this year in local, national and social media outlets.
Other industry leaders also voiced concern about the message of the Dirty Dozen.
“At a time when health authorities urge us all to eat more fruits and vegetables for better health, it is counterproductive and misleading for the EWG to needlessly create confusion with this list,” according to a United Fresh Produce Association statement.