Packer Insight - Our annual rebuttal of the Dirty Dozen
Ashley Nickle and Greg Johnson ( The Packer )

Editor Greg Johnson and staff writer Ashley Nickle deliver a rebuttal of the Environmental Working Group's annual Dirty Dozen list that disparages fresh fruits and vegetables.

With its yearly report, the EWG raises the alarm on pesticide residue levels that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states are safe. More than 99% of the produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture meet that standard.

The EPA explains on its website that the vast majority of residues are miniscule and not a reason for worry.

"Very small amounts of pesticides that may remain in or on fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods decrease considerably as crops are harvested, transported, exposed to light, washed, prepared and cooked," the organization stated on its Food and Pesticides page. "The presence of a detectable pesticide residue does not mean the residue is at an unsafe level. USDA’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) detects residues at levels far lower than those that are considered health risks."

The EWG rejects the standards of the EPA and instead tells consumers to buy organic all the items on its Dirty Dozen list. 

What are your thoughts on this annual report?


Submitted by cindy jewell on Wed, 04/11/2018 - 08:14

Appreciate the rebuttal, and point of view. Your points made were right on track with how we feel as growers of both organic and conventionally grown produce. Whether or not someone buys organic is a choice, and no one should feel making the choice to buy one or the other is wrong, or jeopardizes the health of their family. The real concern is leaving fresh produce out of the grocery cart completely because of fear. So much time and funding is spent every day in this country trying to educate consumers on the importance of eating fresh produce for good health, as we fight obesity, heart disease and so many other health issues. This divisive report just further muddies the water and confuses consumers on who they should listen to and more importantly telling them what they should and shouldn't buy in their local grocery stores. This annual PR move by the EWG potentially has moms making decisions not to buy any one of those twelve healthy items because she feels guilty, scared, or confused. Shameful.

Submitted by Tom on Wed, 04/11/2018 - 09:35

EWG needs publicity to survive and the truth just gets in the way,but now we have a sitting Senator,Tom Udall sending out letters on paper we the taxpayers pay for scaring the hell out of retailers and food service operators saying farmers are using pesticides that will kill your children,this from a man who never had a real job in his life but he feels farming in America is not needed. If he is so worried about our children why doesn't he shut down the southern border crossings every time drugs are found on a truck,that would save more lives then the lies he and the EWG use.

Submitted by Mike on Wed, 04/11/2018 - 13:50

How come the EU, Korea, Australia, and even China has lower allowed residues than the USA? How come no one talks about the lack of testing when a product carries multiple "safe" residues? We need the opinions of the EWG to highlight some of these issues and to give a different perspective to what the industry promotes. Hopefully it encourages people to look for answers and question everything and not buy into the whitewash that are produce industry groups not prepared to look closer at the safety of workers and the environment or even sustainability of production until it is forced on them because they did not lobby or bribe the right people. Would be nice to see this publication actually have an opinion rather than just be a source of glorified adverts.

Submitted by James Clemons on Thu, 04/12/2018 - 03:41

Just wondering if they've ever started testing Organic for Organic pesticide residue or if its still just being tested for non organic substance only?

Submitted by YvetteNewell on Thu, 04/12/2018 - 05:03

This dirty dozen list makes me angry every year when it comes out. There are so many other things to worry about and EWG wants to scare people away from eating fresh fruits and veggies. Use some common sense folks. Prepare your food properly. Move on.

Submitted by Joan on Thu, 04/12/2018 - 10:34

I think the "dirty dozen" list is important because so many people don't understand how all the pesticides are affecting themselves, their families, the field workers and the watershed and soil. Since the boxes that produce comes in are not displayed to show the sprays and waxes, consumers have no way to tell.
Let's encourage certified organic production so we can have a healthier life and safe future for generations to come! The dirty dozen list is not to prevent folks from buying produce, but to inform them because labeling is not currently serving them to make their cleanest options known, should they decide to purchase pesticide/herbicide-free foods.

Submitted by john on Fri, 04/13/2018 - 11:55

A trip to the EWG website is to be constantly asked for your zip code, email and there is always a 'donation' button nearby. Fear mongering about your water is unsafe, your cell phone is irradiating your brain and other conspiracies. "The EPA's tolerances are too lenient to protect public health" The CNN connection? Ted Turner's daughter is a Director and many directors have media-public relations backgrounds. EWG accepts in-kind donations? Why doesn't the Farm Journal offer EWG a full page(s) to bring their best game to convince the produce industry that we should change our practices to their recommendations?