( The Packer )

Just how influential is the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list?

Is there “buy-in” from one in a thousand consumers? One in ten?

I asked the LinkedIn Fresh Produce Industry Discussion Group this question:


What percent of consumers do you think pay attention to the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” and Clean 15 lists?

The results, from 89 votes so far (six days of voting left):

 


For what it is worth, most produce industry operators don’t believe the Dirty Dozen list has much influence among consumers.

We have been running a pop-up survey on our coverage of the 2020 Dirty Dozen. We think most of the survey responses come from consumers looking for the list, so those folks would seem to be inclined to give it credence. 

Here are a couple of recent responses to the survey that showed a degree of trust in produce, whether conventional or organic.

Person A

Does the Dirty Dozen list influence how you shop?
No

What is your level of trust in the safety of fresh produce?
Fairly trusting. It is better than processed foods any day, even if not organic

Tell us why...
Fruit and veg are healthy, way healthier any day than processed food. Let’s not throw out good nutrition just because it is not the most so-called perfect organic food

What produce brand do you trust the most?
Anything organic, but I cannot afford organic all the time, and then I would buy non-organic easily

Where do you shop for most of your fruits and vegetables?
Direct from farmer

What is one thing a produce brand could do earn your trust?
To let me know what sprays they do avoid


Person B:

Does the Dirty Dozen list influence how you shop?
Yes

What is your level of trust in the safety of fresh produce?
Pretty high

Tell us why...
My career was in produce

What produce brand do you trust the most?
Andy Boy

Where do you shop for most of your fruits and vegetables?
Sprouts or Whole Foods

What is one thing a produce brand could do earn your trust?
Pay their workers fairly and @ essentially”

 

With the coronavirus adding the "COVID-19" to our waistline and bringing back processed food in a big way, the creators of the Dirty Dozen shouldn’t make things worse by blacklisting perfectly healthy fruits and vegetables. While not all shoppers are swayed by the list, even one consumer who foregoes strawberries for Starbursts is a loss.

On a related note, the 2020 Food and Health Survey from the International Food Information Council is worth a deeper dive. The report said that despite COVID-19, nearly seven in ten are at least “somewhat confident” in the safety of the U.S. food supply.

The report also said consumers’ top four food safety issues in 2019 have all decreased, due to the rise in concerns related to COVID-19.

The survey found the top food safety concerns this year (ranked either one, two or three):

  • Foodborne illness from bacteria (+50%)
  • Food handling/food preparation related to risk of COVID-19*  (+40%)
  • Chemicals in food (+40%)
  • Carcinogens or cancer-causing chemicals in food (+35%)
  • Pesticides/pesticide residues (+30%)
  • Food additives and ingredients (+20%)


 

 
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