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Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen lists updated for 2020

dirty dozen 2020
Dr. Carl Winter, Cooperative Extension Food Toxicology Specialist Emeritus, University of California, Davis, says 2021’s Dirty Dozen list should look much like 2020’s shown here.

The Environmental Working Group released its annual Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce, also known as the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.

The list is compiled from the EWG’s analysis of 47 fresh produce, using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program.

This year the EWG added a twist: raisins.

“Because the USDA tested raisins last year for the first time since 2007, we decided to see how they would fare on the Dirty Dozen, our annual ranking of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides,” the group said in a release. “Almost every sample of non-organic raisins – 99 percent – had residues of at least two pesticides. On the 2020 Dirty Dozen, raisins would rank worst of all fruits tested, including strawberries, nectarines, apples, and cherries.”

This year’s Dirty Dozen list:
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Kale
4. Nectarines
5. Apples
6. Grapes
7. Peaches
8. Cherries
9. Pears
10. Tomatoes
11. Celery
12. Potatoes

The “Clean Fifteen” rankings include a list of the “least contaminated” produce items from the EWG’s analysis.

They are:
1. Avocados
2. Sweet corn
3. Pineapple
4. Onions
5. Papaya
6. Sweet peas (frozen)
7. Eggplants
8. Asparagus
9. Cauliflower
10. Cantaloupes
11. Broccoli
12. Mushrooms
13. Cabbage
14. Honeydew melon
15. Kiwifruit

Numerous produce groups refute the annual list’s publication. The Alliance for Food and Farming’s is one of the most active industry advocacy groups and offers a Pesticide Residue Calculator showing the amount of a fruit or vegetable a person would have to eat to reach the Environmental Protection Agency’s minimum risk threshold. has also published a new post called A Dozen Reasons: Why eating both conventional and organic produce is the right choice for your family and started industry outreach ahead of the release of the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen with registered dietitians and scientific studies refuting the EWG’s claims.

In an analysis piece, I explain how this year’s list is even more tone deaf than usual.


Pamela Riemenschneider is Retail Editor for Blue Book Services