Report shows which produce most & least likely to have pesticide residue

JACKSON, Tenn. — Spinach, sweet bell peppers and strawberries; these are all fruits and vegetables found to be most contaminated with pesticide residue, according to a recent report.

“Does it surprise you that these have pesticides on them,” asked WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Amanda Gerry.
“No. Uh uh,” replied Celeste Scott, horticultural extension agent for the University of Tennessee.

Apples are one example of produce that made it onto the dirty dozen, but experts say there’s probably no reason for concern.

“The chemicals that were found are actually chemicals that the USDA has actually deemed safe for use on those foods, and that’s why they are found on those particular fruits and vegetables,” Scott said.

Scott says pesticides on produce is not only common, but expected.

“They’ve been conditioned to expect a certain level of perfectness in their produce, and to achieve that you are almost always going to have to use some type of chemical,” Scott said.

She recommends to wash your produce under tap water for at least 30 seconds to get rid of harmful bacteria.

“That would be deposited or contracted on those fruits and vegetables during harvest and handling, shipment, while it’s sitting in the store, waiting on you to buy it,” Scott said.

In the end, experts say this shouldn’t deter you from snacking on your favorite fruit or veggie.

“It’s better to eat any amount of fruits and vegetables, no matter how they’ve been raised, than to not eat any at all,” Scott said.

The report also included a list of the “Clean Fifteen,” which included avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, onions and broccoli.

For a complete list of the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen,” you can find the full report on

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