Non-profit organization the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) has slammed the continued publication of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) ‘dirty dozen’ list, saying it could impact on produce consumption.
Peer reviewed research and a recent survey of registered dietitian nutritionists has shown the potential negative impact on fruit and vegetable consumption.
Further, the “dirty dozen” list has been repeatedly discredited by the scientific community and peer-reviewed studies, the AFF said.
The EWG says the list shows the 12 produce items with the highest levels of pesticide residues.
“Why continue to perpetuate misinformation and create another barrier to consumption, when you’ve been shown the negative impact it has on consumers,” says Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the AFF.
“With only 1 in 10 Americans eating enough fruits and vegetables each day, we should be promoting consumption to enhance immune function and prevent illness, not discouraging it by inaccurately disparaging popular and safe produce.”
Peer reviewed research found that the substitution of organic forms of produce for conventional forms, as suggested in the “dirty dozen” list, does not result in any decrease in consumer risk because residues, if present at all, are so low. This study also found that the list authors follow no established scientific procedures in developing this list.
A peer reviewed study published in Nutrition Today found that misleading messaging perpetuated in the “dirty dozen” list which inaccurately describes certain produce items as having “higher” pesticide residues results in lower income consumers stating they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables – organically or conventionally grown.
Further, a recent survey among registered dietitians found that 94% agreed that inaccurate, fear-based messaging regarding pesticide residues has a negative impact on consumers because it causes misplaced concern about whether conventionally-grown fruits and vegetables are safe to eat.
The AFF says that when shown infographics from the “dirty dozen” list authors, 95% of dietitians agreed that the group’s misinformation about residues discourages consumption.
“Fresh, dried, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables comprise the only food group health experts universally agree we need to eat more of to improve health, boost immunities and prevent illness and disease,” Thorne says.
“This recommendation is supported by decades of nutritional science. Knowing this, why would you choose to perpetuate misinformation about produce safety and raise needless fears among consumers, especially under our current circumstances?” Thorne says.
Consumers who are concerned about residues are advised to simply wash their fresh produce – organic and conventionally grown, the AFF said.
“We simply want people to know that whatever produce they choose – organic or conventional – both are safe and can be consumed with confidence,” Thorne says.
“Be reassured that the correct and healthy choice is to always eat more. Don’t let unfounded safety fears or baseless shopping lists get in the way of healthy eating.”