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Group names most-contaminated produce

(Thursday, Oct. 23, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- NY Times, 10/21/03: Apples, peppers, celery and cherries top a list compiled by an environmental research organization of the 12 fruits and vegetables it considers the most contaminated by pesticides.

The report from the organization, the Environmental Working Group, ranks pesticide contamination for 46 fruits and vegetables and is based on more than 100,000 laboratory tests conducted from 1992 to 2001 by the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. The most-contaminated list also includes imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries.

The 12 considered least contaminated are asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangoes, onions, papayas, pineapples and sweet peas.

Since 1993, when the group published its last study of pesticide levels, the produce on what it calls the "dirty dozen" list has remained the same. But the availability of organic produce has made it easier to avoid most pesticides.

The report used six measures of contamination including the percent of samples tested with detectable pesticides and the average number of pesticides found on a sample.