The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 50 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 89,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2008 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Food and Drug Administration. The 49 fruits and vegetables analyzed in the guide are the top 49 most consumed fruits and vegetables as reported by the USDA, with a minimum of 100 pesticide tests between 2000 and 2009. Nearly all the studies on which the guide is based tested the produce after it had been rinsed or peeled.
Contamination was measured in 6 different ways:
- Percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides
- Percent of samples with two or more pesticides
- Average number of pesticides found on a single sample
- Average amount (level in parts per million) of all pesticides found
- Maximum number of pesticides found on a single sample
- Total number of pesticides found on the commodity
THE CLEANEST TO THE DIRTIEST: 49 FRUITS & VEGGIES
For each metric, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) ranked all of the foods based on their individual USDA test results, then normalized the scores on a 1-100 scale (with 100 being the highest). To get a commodity’s final score, EWG added up the six normalized scores from each metric. The full Shopper’s Guide list shows the fruits and vegetables in order of these final scores.
The goal is to include a range of different measures of pesticide contamination to account for uncertainties in the science. All categories EWG were treated equally, for example, a pesticide linked to cancer was counted the same as a pesticide linked to brain and nervous system toxicity, and the likelihood of eating multiple pesticides on a single food was given the same EWG weight as the amounts of the pesticide detected or the percent of the crop on which pesticides that were found.
The Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide is not built on a complex assessment of pesticide risks but instead reflects the overall pesticide loads of common fruits and vegetables. This approach best captures the uncertainties of the risks of pesticide exposure and gives shoppers the confidence that when they follow the guide they are buying foods with consistently lower overall levels of pesticide contamination.
To contact the Environmental Working Group write: 1436 U Street, NW, Suite 100, Washington, DC 20009 or call (202) 667-6982.
If you would like to download a complete PDF of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide please go to the following link. http://www.foodnews.org/