Study says Dirty Dozen methodology is faulty

08/05/2011 10:29:00 AM
Tom Karst

A University of California study recently published in The Journal of Toxicology has called into question on the scientific methodology behind the creation of the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list.

The peer-reviewed study, “Dietary Exposure to Pesticide Residues from Commodities Alleged to Contain the Highest Contamination Levels,”  was authored by Carl Winter, director of the University of California’s FoodSafe Program and Josh Katz, a fourth-year doctoral student at the University of California-Davis.

“Findings conclusively demonstrate that consumer exposures to the 10 most frequently detected pesticides on EWG’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ commodity list are at negligible levels and that the EWG methodology is insufficient to allow any meaningful rankings among commodities,” according to the study.

The study was independent of the Alliance for Food and Farming’s Safe Fruits and Veggies initiative, but the industry-backed group did call attention to the study with a headline titled “More Evidence that “Dirty Dozen” List is Based on Bad Science.”

“What’s very important to note about Dr. Winter’s report is the fact that it was peer-reviewed prior to being accepted for publication in the Journal of Toxicology,” according to the alliance’s website.

In addition, the group said that both of the Alliance for Food and Farming studies on the Dirty Dozen list are also currently being subjected to peer-review for submission in scientific journals.
On the other hand, to the knowledge of the alliance, the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen study itself has never been subjected to peer review.



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Julio Loaiza    
Salinas Ca  |  August, 05, 2011 at 01:08 PM

This report is wishfull thinking!

Steve Savage    
Encinitas, CA  |  August, 06, 2011 at 03:19 PM

Julio, "Wishful thinking?" Perhaps, but here is the wish: That consumers would stop being frightened away from eating the fruits and vegetables which could be keeping them healthy and counteracting the effects of natural toxins in the food supply and in the environment. This is not a wish I'm ready to abandon to cynicism.

Alex Formuzis    
Washington, DC  |  October, 19, 2011 at 09:23 AM

EWG's response: Since the Environmental Working Group released its 2011 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce earlier this year, apologists for the pesticide industry and conventional agribusiness have attacked it on grounds that it was not published in a scholarly journal, whose rules would require review by “peers” – scientific experts on the topic at hand. They’re right. The Shopper’s Guide method for ranking food wasn’t peer-reviewed. Does every piece of useful information need to be peer-reviewed? The rationale behind our ranking system is laid out in plain language on our website. We believe it speaks for itself. Anyone who would rather crunch the numbers themselves definitely can download the USDA data and do so. Pesticides are on much of the conventionally grown produce sold in the U.S. Our Shopper’s Guide merely lists which items consistently contain high and low levels of pesticide residues. Full post here: http://bit.ly/p0dU1f

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