Read Government and Peer Reviewed Reports Before Promoting or Covering "Dirty Dozen" List Release


Contact:  Marilyn Dolan or Teresa Thorne

(831) 786-1666


(Watsonville, CA) Today, an annual report titled the “dirty dozen” was released concerning pesticide residues and produce.  Before using or promoting this list or covering today’s list release, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) asks concerned consumers and the media to review the following peer reviewed studies and government reports: 

  1. USDA Pesticide Data Program report released in February.  The United States Department of Agriculture/Environmental Protection Agency/Food and Drug Administration conclusion: “residues do not pose a food safety concern.”
  2. Journal of Toxicology Peer reviewed paper which examined the methodology used to develop this so-called list.  Among the paper’s conclusions:  No established scientific procedures were followed in the development of the list and the recommended substitutions of organic for conventional forms of produce did not reduce risk.
  3. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health Peer reviewed study showed that people who ate seven or more servings of produce per day reduced their risk of premature death by 42%.  Consuming that many servings reduced the risk of death from cancer by 25% and heart disease by 31%.
  4. British Journal of Cancer Peer reviewed study which found that there was no difference in cancer rates of middle aged women who consumed organic foods compared to women who ate conventionally grown foods.
  5. Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology Peer reviewed paper which found that if Americans increased their consumption of fruits and vegetables by a single serving, over 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.  This study was conducted assuming all servings were of conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.

“We have seen ‘dirty dozen’ list coverage steadily decline as more consumers and reporters review actual government data and peer reviewed studies,” says Marilyn Dolan, Executive Director of the AFF.  “However, aggressive promotion and marketing of this list continues.  Our concern, which is shared by health experts, is that negative and inaccurate claims made by the list authors are undermining efforts to improve the diets of Americans.  These “dirty” references are especially unwarranted since organic and conventional pesticides are highly regulated and federal and state government monitoring data collected over the past 20 years has shown residues are either non-existent or are so minute that they do not pose a food safety concern,” Dolan says.

For those that may not want to read the entire USDA report, Dolan recommends reviewing the consumer Q&As that summarize the objective of the government sampling program as well as the results.  “And, by reading just the abstract of the peer reviewed papers and studies you can learn about the scientists’ conclusions,” Dolan says.

Consumers who want more information on the safety of organic and conventionally grown fruits and vegetables can also visit the website.  This website was developed by experts in food safety, toxicology, nutrition, risk analysis and farming.  The site features a popular calculator which consumers can use to see how many fruits or vegetables they could eat in a day and still not see any effects from residues.  The site was also recently expanded to include a new section which outlines the stringent laws and regulations governing the use of organic and conventional pesticides.

“We hope consumers visit this site and read, learn and then choose what foods are best for their families,” Dolan explains.

For consumers who may still be concerned about pesticide residues, they should simply wash their fruits and vegetables.  According to the Federal Food and Drug Administration, you can reduce and often eliminate residues if they are present at all on fresh fruits and vegetables simply by washing.  “Washing is a healthful habit and should be used before eating organic or conventional produce,” Dolan says.



The Alliance for Food and Farming is a non-profit organization formed in 1989 which represents organic and conventional farmers and farms of all sizes.  Alliance contributors are limited to farmers of fruits and vegetables, companies that sell, market or ship fruits and vegetables or organizations that represent produce farmers.  Our mission is to deliver credible information to consumers about the safety of all fruits and vegetables.  The Alliance does not engage in any lobbying nor do we accept any money or support from the pesticide industry.