courtesy of Bill Hodges, CA SC Secretary
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WASHINGTON – Kale has higher pesticide residues than nearly all other produce found on supermarket shelves, according to the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Dirty Dozen™.
EWG releases the Dirty Dozen as part of its annual Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™, which analyzes Department of Agriculture test data to identify which fruits and vegetables are most and least contaminated with pesticide residues. The Shopper’s Guide also includes the Clean Fifteen, a list of the fruits and vegetables with the lowest amount of residues.
On this year’s Dirty Dozen, kale ranks third, after strawberries and spinach.
“We were surprised kale had so many pesticides on it, but the test results were unequivocal,” said EWG Toxicologist Alexis Temkin, Ph.D. “Fruits and vegetables are an important part of everyone’s diet, and when it comes to some conventionally grown produce items, such as kale, choosing organic may be a better option.”
In USDA’s most recent round of tests, more than 92 percent of conventionally grown kale samples had at least two or more pesticide residues. Some samples contained residues from as many as 18 different pesticides.
Even as kale’s popularity has soared over the past decade, it hasn’t been included in USDA’s regular produce tests. Kale ranked eighth on the 2009 Dirty Dozen, the last year for which there was testing data.
In the latest tests, almost 60 percent of the kale samples tested positive for DCPA, or Dacthal, which the Environmental Protection Agency has long classified as a possible human carcinogen. The pesticide has been prohibited for use on crops in the European Union since 2009.
Recent EWG-commissioned tests of kale from grocery stores found that on two of eight samples, Dacthal residues were comparable to the average level reported by the USDA.
Overall, nearly 70 percent of the conventionally grown produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues, EWG’s analysis found.