(UPDATED COVERAGE, April 25) Media coverage of the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 Dirty Dozen list appears much lower than previous years, and industry sources believe science-based objections to the list and government support of produce safety have played a role.
“We are astounded how little media coverage there is this year,” said Marilyn Dolan, executive director of the Watsonville, Calif.-based Alliance for Food and Farming.
Even the Environmental Working Group’s own news release on the Dirty Dozen list focuses on the need to eat more fruits and vegetables, Dolan said.
“They still publish it and we question why there is need for the list but we are thinking the real story here is what happens when you stand up and have science on your side and you have government backing you up,” she said.
Since the Alliance’s Safe Fruits and Veggies campaign started in 2010, media coverage of the Dirty Dozen has declined and news pickup this year is especially low, Matt McInerney, executive vice president of Western Growers Association and board chair of the alliance, said. McInerney said in the release that the Safe Fruits and Veggies Campaign was developed to provide science-based, balanced information regarding pesticide residues for the media and consumers.
“Our goal is to have facts, not fear, guide consumers’ shopping choices,” McInerney said in the release.
“It is very encouraging to see science prevail,” Bryan Silbermann, president of the Produce Marketing Association and alliance vice-chair, said in the alliance release.
The cornerstone of this effort is the safefruitsandveggies.com website,” Silbermann said. “Our hope is that this information guides consumers to understand that they can choose both organic and conventional produce with confidence and that eating more is always the right choice,” he said in the release.
In its ninth year, the Environmental Working Group shopper’s guide ranks pesticide residues on 48 fruits and vegetables based on thousands of samples tested by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration, according to a news release from the group.
The Washington, D.C.-based EWG reported that apples again top its annual list of the most pesticide-contaminated produce, followed by strawberries, grapes and celery. The remaining fresh produce items on the Dirty Dozen list, released April 22, were peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers. The EWG also issued what it calls the “Clean 15” list, produce the group says has the lowest pesticide residue levels, The Clean 15 list is corn, onions, pineapples, avocados, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, papayas, mangoes, asparagus, eggplant, kiwi, grapefruit, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and mushrooms, according to a news release from the Environmental Working Group.