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Food Scientists Debunk Dirty Dozen List

August 11, 2011

2 Min Read
Food Scientists Debunk Dirty Dozen List

DAVIS, Calif.Scientists at the University of California, Davis, published a study in The Journal of Toxicology debunking the Environmental Working Groups recently released "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and vegetables consumers should avoid eating because of pesticide residues.

The Dirty Dozen" list was published in June 2010 and listed celery as the most contaminated commodity, followed by peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale, potatoes and imported grapes.

The study was led by Carl Winter, a food toxicologist who directs the universitys FoodSafe Program, and PhD student Josh Katz. They estimated consumers exposure to the pesticides studied in the EWG report and compared them with the EPAs chronic reference dose (RfD) that estimates the amount of a chemical a person could be exposed to every day over an entire lifetime without an appreciable risk of harm. They found the EPAs reference doses for each of the pesticides exceeded the mean exposure estimates in all cases. The reference doses were more than 1,000 times higher than the exposure estimates in more than 90% of the comparisons. They found blueberries, cherries and kale had reference doses more than 30,000 times higher than the exposure estimates for all of the 10 most frequently detected pesticides on those commodities, and, therefore, should not appear on the list.

"Results from this study strongly suggest that consumer exposures to the 10 most common pesticides found on the Dirty Dozen commodities are several orders of magnitude below levels required to cause any biological effect. The EWG methodology also does not appear to be capable of justifying the claim that 'consumers can lower their pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding conventionally-grown varieties of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables' since no effort to quantify consumer exposure was made," they said.

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