On June 19, the Environmental Working Group released its 2012 Dirty Dozen list of 12 fruits and vegetables, adding greens and green beans in a “plus” category for a total of 14 items.

Below are comments from other media about the list.

Watch out for the 2012 ‘Dirty Dozen’

CNN Health — by Marina Csomor, June 19

Apples and celery are still agriculture’s dirtiest pieces of produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” report. The report names the fruits and vegetables ranking highest in pesticide residue.

Cucumbers were added to the 2012 Dirty Dozen, while kale and collard greens were moved from the list to join green beans in a new “Plus” category.

The category was created this year to highlight crops that did not meet traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but are still commonly contaminated with organophosphate insecticides, which are toxic to the nervous system. ...

With the release of this list, the EWG suggests consumers reduce their exposure to pesticides as much as possible by purchasing organic versions of the Dirty Dozen. Organic produce is grown using materials of plant or animal origin, instead of chemicals.

Why you shouldn’t panic about pesticide in produce

The Salt/NPR food blog — by Jon Hamilton, June 19

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit health advocacy organization, says you should be concerned about pesticide residues in fruits and vegetables, but not so concerned that you stop eating these foods.

That’s the mixed message delivered in the eighth edition of EWG’s annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, released today.

The guide begins by telling readers to “eat your fruits and vegetables.” Then it offers a detailed list of every pesticide found along the produce aisle, as well as reminders that “some pesticides pose health dangers to people.”

So what’s a consumer to do?

Look beyond the fearful rhetoric, says Joseph Schwarcz, director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Montreal.

Take apples, Schwarcz says. They occupy the top spot on EWG’s “dirty dozen” list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables (followed by celery and red peppers). The group notes that nearly all apples contain detectable levels of pesticide residues.

But it’s a mistake to “equate the presence of a chemical with the presence of risk,” Schwarcz says. “Where is the evidence that these trace residues are dangerous?”

There just isn’t much there, he says.

PR before publication still bad idea

Barfblog — by Doug Powell, June 20

In Sept. 2000, I called Procter & Gamble to substantiate claims their consumer-oriented Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash removed 99.9 per cent more residue and dirt than water alone.

The PR-thingies hooked me up with some scientists at P&G in Cincinnati, who verbally told me that sample cucumbers, tomatoes and the like were grown on the same farm in California, sprayed with chemicals that would be used in conventional production, and then harvested immediately and washed with Fit or water. The Fit removed 99.9% more, or so the company claimed.

One problem. Many of the chemicals used had harvest‑after dates, such as the one tomato chemical that must be applied at least 20 days before harvest.

That tidbit wasn’t revealed in the company PR accompanying Fit.

Residue data on produce in North American stores reveals extremely low levels, in the parts per million or billion. So that 99.9% reduction was buying consumers an extra couple of zeros in the residue quantity, all well below health limits.

Sorta like the annual crap survey produced by the Environmental Working Group that came out today, with its produce dirty dozen.